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 A question on cultural education
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rayg50
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NYC, NY
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Posted - 08/11/2013 :  9:52 AM
Before diving into the material at hand let me answer the points you raised.
quote:
Originally posted by radan2

First, I object strongly to your practice of quoting other posts without attribution. I prefer to know to whom I am talking and who is being quoted.
When I quote something I am either challenging or supporting the quoted passage. I am NOT challenging the author. Who cares who wrote it?

If someone directly disagrees with my post then they should quote me. If they directly disagree with the quoted passage then they should return to that post and quote it. Either way it is the material that should be the object of the reply (IMO). If you prefer attribution to your posts I am fine with that. I will continue the practice with others because when I reply it is the subject matter that I am discussing.

quote:
Originally posted by radan2Second, I (who wrote the quote you cited) did not say or intend to imply that the students should "read nothing, write nothing, and do nothing with the math." Others are advocating that schools "teach skills and get out of the way." I am saying that is impossible. You cannot learn to read without reading something, learn to write without writing about something, or learn to math without solving some sort of math problems.
See, we are not apart on this at all. I believed I knew what you meant to say but I do not believe it is what you did say. I gave you the opportunity to flesh out your point.

quote:
Originally posted by radan2Others are advocating that schools "teach skills and get out of the way."
My written skills suck but in challenging this you are giving me the opportunity to flesh it out. Thank you.

All too often there is a rigid adherence to the curriculum (I understand why). Sometimes something within the material presented catches the groups interest but is tangential to the lesson (or only catches the interest of a few). Does the educator follow that tangent or not? Does the educator's need to complete a certain amount of material get in the way of the understanding those students might have gained? I have faced that dilemma, a majority of the time I have followed the tangent for fear of losing the moment where the student was most likely to understand. The fact that the tangent came up means they were understanding the material to a level where they were thinking about it and why and how and when, and not just memorizing.

A poor explanation of what I view as "getting out of the way" which I will revisit if the flavor of what I am saying has not come across.


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rayg50
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2083 Posts
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NYC, NY
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Posted - 08/11/2013 :  4:01 PM
quote:
Originally posted by radan2


If literature is selected that has relevance to the student, and is written at a level that the student can comprehend, yes, the students will have opinions of value about the literature they are forced to read. That is the premise of the Great Books Program and the Paideia Proposal. I have been trained in both methods, and have observed students from third grade to high school discuss with great energy, insight, and depth (given their maturity levels) works selected that matched their interests and abilities.
A common contradiction in the highlighted items. I agree the first highlight exists and feel the second highlight often does not happen. Students are forced to form opinions on subjects they have no interest in and to defend those half hearted opinions. It is a necessary situation in order to fulfill the curriculum. Selections are made on what should interest the student (in the eyes of the educator) and not necessarily on what in fact does interest them. I've known more than a few who hated to read, until they came across something that truly interested them or caught their imagination or their curiosity. Since education is not monolithic then perhaps your experience as a student was different from mine. I was told what I must read and what I must write a book report on. I had no voice.

I do not disagree at all with the quoted passage. I agree with it's sentiment. I just do not share it's enthusiasm that that is what happens in the average class.

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scottrnelson
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Meridian, ID
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XR650L, 790 Adv R

Posted - 08/11/2013 :  7:46 PM
quote:
Originally posted by rayg50

Students are forced to form opinions on subjects they have no interest in and to defend those half hearted opinions. It is a necessary situation in order to fulfill the curriculum. Selections are made on what should interest the student (in the eyes of the educator) and not necessarily on what in fact does interest them. I've known more than a few who hated to read, until they came across something that truly interested them or caught their imagination or their curiosity. Since education is not monolithic then perhaps your experience as a student was different from mine. I was told what I must read and what I must write a book report on. I had no voice.
I remember having to read a few Great Works Of Literature back in school and generally not enjoying the books. But I read a few because I wanted to rather than being forced to, like Huckleberry Finn and The Grapes of Wrath. I quite enjoyed both of those book, because I was able form my own opinions rather than trying to find the things that a teacher wanted me to find in the books.

I'll occasionally pick some great literature from the library to read, in between the popular stuff by Grisham, Clancy, and Flynn. Some of them are still "work" to get through and some are enjoyable for me to read.
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rayg50
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Posted - 08/11/2013 :  10:10 PM
quote:
Originally posted by scottrnelson

I quite enjoyed both of those book, because I was able form my own opinions rather than trying to find the things that a teacher wanted me to find in the books.
+1 Wow did you nail it.
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ScooterCommuter
Male Junior Member
52 Posts


Saint Paul, MN
USA

Kymco

Xciting 500RI

Posted - 08/13/2013 :  11:59 AM
quote:
Originally posted by aidanspa
...What's stopping us?

Lack of school choice. Unlike our our world-class Universities, which are run like businesses and must compete for your tuition dollars, kids are assigned to government schools based on proximity to their home. Government schools, like any government run monopoly, have no incentive to improve or evolve. Curricula is "leveled down" as gymnast pointed out to get kids through the system and make them somebody else's problem.

Unions. The best performing k-12 educational systems in the world don't have labor unions to deal with. Bad teachers keep their jobs, "merit pay" and other incentives for teachers to excel are squashed, and "vouchers" to open up school choice are demonized...



I was reluctant to respond to this because it's in danger of drifting into politics, but after pondering it for a few days I think I can respond without a political bias. If I fail in that I apologize in advance, aidanspa.

Normally when comparing complex systems like educational infrastructure and looking for distinguishing factors that cause differences in outcome between two such systems it is an advantage to eliminate factors that the systems under comparison share - on the grounds that if both systems are equally impacted by the same factor it is unlikely to be the root cause of a difference in result.

With respect to lack of school choice, the point that the vast majority of K-12 schools are government-run is undeniable. To what extent do you think government-run schools in the USA are different from government-run schools in other countries? What is it that causes a disadvantage to a student in an American government-run school compared to one in a British, French, German or Japanese government-run school - it cant be the simple fact of a government-run education near-monopoly because the vast majority of those nations that rank higher than the USA in reading, science and math also have that situation. What is it that those governments are doing differently than the government over here that makes the difference? It's an honest question - I truly don't know, it's just that with the vast majority of nations that rank higher in these reports also having government-run education systems it's hard to accept the mere fact that it's government-run as a distinguishing factor.

Similarly with regard to teachers unions, it actually doesnt appear to be a distinguishing factor - going through the list of countries that rank higher than the USA in any one of the three categories, I was able, with a little google-fu, to track down at least one and in many cases more than one labor union representing K-12 teachers in every country on that list except Macao and China, and it could be argued that China, being one of the few remaining bastions of communism in the world, is about as unionized as you can get. Is there something that makes a teachers union over here more of a negative factor than it is in any other country? Is it the actions of those unions that differ? They all share the same mission and goals for their members and have the same "tools" to use in achieving them so what is it that makes the difference?

Personally I feel that the distinguishing factors are more likely "what we teach and how." We should perhaps be looking at differences in the resources available to schools, differences in the quality of teacher training and differences in both the level of compensation (not simply in monetary terms) that teachers receive and the level of esteem in which the society concerned holds those teachers we entrust with the awesome responsibility of inspiring and educating our children over and above what we, as parents, can accomplish alone.

Edited to fix typos

Edited by - ScooterCommuter on 08/13/2013 12:06 PM
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gymnast
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4260 Posts
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Meridian, Idaho
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Posted - 08/13/2013 :  12:14 PM
Here you go scooter commuter, an essay that answers your questions with examples.

http://pjmedia.com/blog/who-benefit...glepage=true
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ScooterCommuter
Male Junior Member
52 Posts


Saint Paul, MN
USA

Kymco

Xciting 500RI

Posted - 08/13/2013 :  1:32 PM
quote:
Originally posted by gymnast

Here you go scooter commuter, an essay that answers your questions with examples.

http://pjmedia.com/blog/who-benefit...glepage=true



so, the basic premise of the article is that it's the school bureaucracy, the administrators and school boards that are overpaid and siphoning off the resources that should instead go to the fundamental mission of the schools. I think that's a very good point and it certainly answers the question of "what are the various governments doing differently" - by way of an example here's the most recent annual accounts of the UK department of education. http://www.deni.gov.uk/2012-13_de_a...accounts.pdf

If you scroll down to about page 48 of the pdf (page #40 of the report) you'll see the pay scales of the senior government bureaucrats in the dept of education. Comparing that to this page http://www.education.gov.uk/get-int...c_lang=en-GB you'll see the salary of the permanent secretary (the top civil servant in the department, most senior guy reporting directly to the minister of education) is actually LESS than a top school principal in central London can earn. The minister of education, for serving on the cabinet in that capacity is paid 37k pounds (approximately $57k) on top of his pay for serving as a member of parliament (in the UK the cabinet is drawn entirely from the elected legislators)

So there's one huge difference, in the UK the most senior teachers are paid more than the most senior administrators.

Edited to add US$ equivalent of ministerial pay premium

Edited by - ScooterCommuter on 08/13/2013 2:00 PM
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rayg50
Male Moderator
2083 Posts
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NYC, NY
USA

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Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 08/13/2013 :  7:32 PM
quote:
Originally posted by ScooterCommuter

Normally when comparing complex systems like educational infrastructure and looking for distinguishing factors that cause differences in outcome between two such systems it is an advantage to eliminate factors that the systems under comparison share - on the grounds that if both systems are equally impacted by the same factor it is unlikely to be the root cause of a difference in result.
Excellent point.

I'll speak for NY but I assume it is not too far off in other states. In the K - 12 public schools I suggest the following but corrections and additions are welcome since it has been quite a while since I attended public schools.

School starts in September, ends in June (about 9 months) (about 9.5 months). Here we start about the second week in September and end about the third weeks end in June.

Approximately a 2 week recess end of December into early January.

1 week recess in the April / May timeframe.

I would estimate 8 days off for holidays (Presidents day, memorial day etc.).

School day begins 8:30 - 9 am and ends 2:30 - 3 pm. (Pre-K and K may be shorter.) So about 6 classroom hours per day minus lunch time.

12 years average for required education (1-12) with more for some if they availed themselves of Pre-K and or K.

How does this compare with the UK (and / or any other country that you may be familiar with)?

Edited to better estimate the number of months.

Edited by - rayg50 on 08/13/2013 8:08 PM
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Magnawing
Male Senior Member
281 Posts


The Woodlands, TX
USA

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VF750C

Peer Review: 1

Posted - 08/14/2013 :  7:37 AM Follow poster on Twitter
Please pardon the digression but I feel a need to address some of the ideas presented earlier in this thread ( I came in late...in the words of Jeff Spicoli - "Sorry Dude")

I am a product of American public schools. I was not the best student, I struggled to maintain a low C average (just enough to pass). At the tender age of 37 I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of Autism. I didn't, and still don't, understand the theory and concepts of algebra, trigonometry, calculus and other forms of "advanced" mathematics...but give me the same problem with real numbers attached and I can figure it out.

My parents were extremely perplexed when, after barely graduating high school, I finished at the top of my class in Gas Turbine Systems Technician school while in the US Navy. They were teaching me "real" stuff...stuff that I could touch, see, hear and understand.

Give me any book other than mathematics and I will devour it and be able to write an informed (in my opinion) summary including my understanding of the topic.

Put anything mechanical in front of me, including a human body, and I will be able to assess, probably diagnose and, most likely, fix it. Unless it's a medical problem that is above my paygrade.

Give me a pile of wood and shop and I will build you anything your heart desires or that your mind can dream up...My "Zen" outside of motorcycles is building custom guitars...I feel a connection with the wood the same as mathematicians have with numbers or artists have with their canvas. I can "see" the guitar sitting inside of the slab waiting for me to pull it out...I have basic math skills (add, subtract, multiply & divide) and I use those to do what needs to be done...I may not have complex formulas and it may take me twice as long...but the end result is the same.

Some people, especially those with learning disabilities, just don't "get" math...it's a foreign concept that makes no sense and probably never will. My 14 year old son (who is autistic) struggles with math just as I did but put him in a kitchen then stand back and build your appetite. You will not go away hungry and, chances are, you will not find food of that taste and quality in any restaurant.

Sure, he keeps a "cheat sheet" handy for measurement conversions, but what good craftsman doesn't have a reference library of some type.

I don't feel that it's particularly a failure of the teachers. Teachers use the tools provided to them by the school system, which is a direct product of the government that oversees them. I won't get into my personal views of our government because that would just spiral downward into territory that we don't need to visit.
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The Meromorph
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White House, TN
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Posted - 08/14/2013 :  9:21 AM
I believe the biggest difference between the US school system, and nearly everywhere else, is the dominance of local School Boards, and their influence on curriculum, budget, and policy.
Although the 'government run' schools here are constitutionally required to be secular, local School Boards are typically dominated by Christians, and often by fundamentalist Christians. The only actual constraints on their predilection for christian censorship of curriculum and teachers are infrequent lawsuits brought by independent organisations against the more outrageous constitutional violations.
e.g http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmi...ool_District

Edited by - The Meromorph on 08/14/2013 9:26 AM
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rayg50
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Posted - 08/14/2013 :  11:31 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Magnawing

Please pardon the digression...
There are no digressions in this thread only tangents and they are welcomed with open arms. I see no problem with multiple discussions coexisting.

quote:
Originally posted by Magnawing

I don't feel that it's particularly a failure of the teachers. Teachers use the tools provided to them by the school system, which is a direct product of the government that oversees them.
This thread should not assign blame. It should look at what is, seek to understand it, discuss methodologies, point out areas of improvement and possibly offer ways to move in a better direction.

Education is complex and it is rare when you can point at any single point in a complex system and say that that is the point of failure. My personal opinion is that education across the board, and borders does a good job. It is not perfect and I personally would like to discuss the imperfections while recognizing it's qualities. What I would not like to see is a mine is bigger than yours discussion.

quote:
Originally posted by Magnawing

I came in late...
But you did not come in empty handed.

I had hoped to touch upon the point I believe you made but since you've introduced it rather than put words in your mouth I'll present my belief.

Different people are wired to learn, apply, and understand different things. IMO the wiring is driven by interest, IOW by what turns them on. My understanding of things tends to be visual just as you admitted yours is. To quote you

quote:
"I can "see" the guitar sitting inside of the slab waiting for me to pull it out...".
I'll take it one step further in that you can see HOW to get it out of that block of wood. I suspect your son can see what combining certain spices will do. I can see the result of manipulating numbers (actually could see, past tense, use it or lose it). Different materials for us but the same gift. In a cultural sense equal skills would not necessarily garner equal regard. In a music culture you would be king, and in a culinary culture your son would be king. So what thinking influences the value that a skill is viewed as having?

BTW, I have a direct report who has Aspbergers. He is high maintenance to manage but one of the most prolific I have. He has no off button so at times...

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Magnawing
Male Senior Member
281 Posts


The Woodlands, TX
USA

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Posted - 08/14/2013 :  2:18 PM Follow poster on Twitter
quote:
He has no off button so at times...


I know what you mean...when I'm "in the zone", no matter the task, I find it hard to stop for anything. My son is the same way in the kitchen...if he finds that he's missing an ingredient he doesn't stop and wait for us to go get it, he just finds a replacement and keeps going.

I have missed meals (not too many, mind you), been late for appointments, stayed up all night, etc. when I'm working on projects. It's kind of like my mind doesn't know how to stop. I've had to learn to control the "need" to keep going in order to keep one process from interfering with another (i.e. allowing a finish to dry on one piece before I start sanding another piece)

I have seen engineers who are the same way when designing a piece of equipment...they get on roll and don't want to stop for fear of losing "the roll". I'm sure it's the same with others when they are doing what they love to do.
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gymnast
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Meridian, Idaho
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Posted - 08/14/2013 :  5:40 PM
The Meromorph How we got to where we are now at in American Education, starting with the Olde Deluder Satan Act of the 1640s, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massac..._School_Laws

And following that history to the present.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histor...nited_States
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Tedd
Male Starting Member
9 Posts


Surrey, BC
Canada

Triumph

Speed Triple

Peer Review: 1

Posted - 08/14/2013 :  8:29 PM
Magnawing:

Your post caught me eye because it's so different from my experience. I'm an engineer, so I work with math every day. But I find that most of the people I work with like to work in numbers, whereas I have a hard time doing that. I have to work with symbols. I solve a math problem purely in symbols, and then substitute in values at the end to the get numerical result (if I even want it, which often I don't). When the people I work with start working their way through a problem with actual numbers I get lost after a few calculations.

I bring this up because I think it says something about the challenges teachers must face. Imagine having you and me in the same math class! I don't envy them the task of dealing with the wide range of learning styles (and thinking styles) that are out there. I think that they can realistically only accomplish so much in that environment.

My step son was diagnosed attention deficit (ADD). I think that's one the school system just can not realistically deal with. He would have been much better off doing something practical, rather than the three years he wasted trying to complete grade 9. Now he's a fine, 30 year old man with great character and a thriving business, but most people would never have expected that if they saw him 15 years ago. I'm not sure any kind of school system could ever be right for that kind of person, and it has given me serious doubts about the wisdom of requiring kids to stay in school, even though I realize how big a benefit it is for more typical kids.
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The Meromorph
Male Moderator
834 Posts
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White House, TN
USA

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Posted - 08/14/2013 :  9:11 PM
Gymnast,
Thank you for those enlightening and informative links.
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gymnast
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Meridian, Idaho
USA

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Posted - 08/15/2013 :  9:16 AM
Meromorph, I had just written a very long post, however it was lost when I hit the wrong key. Here are a few more important links for you and others. I am quite familiar with the work of John Dewey "The Father of Modern American Education Philosophy and Thought".

http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/deta...xzz2c2qzyWKo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dewey

http://www.academia.org/john-dewey-...rogressives/

I grew up in Chicago's Hyde Park next to the campus of the University of Chicago, in fact I was born there, and a lot of my family went to school there. The Univ of Chicago was Dewey's springboard to fame and if you are familiar with Dewey's life works, you will understand how the American education system cannot be separated from politics.
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gymnast
Moderator
4260 Posts
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Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

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Posted - 08/16/2013 :  12:15 PM
Doing less with more-

America's Educational Madness
By Robert Weissberg

Imagine you were the CEO of something called "American K-12 Public Schools" and it was the annual Board meeting. With everyone assembled, the firm's Chief of Research distributed this one-page "progress" report (Chart prepared by Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute and derived from the US Department of Education "Digest of Educational Statistics," and NAEP tests, Long Term Trends, 17-year olds):


In a nutshell, and in constant 2013 dollars, the cost of a K-12 education in 1970 was $57,602; the same education in 2010 was $164, 426 all the while employment in education rose sharply and school enrollments remained flat.

Clearly, if our hypothetical firm was a real business, it would have long vanished.

So, what is this Board to do? Heed President Obama's admonitions to "keep investing in the future"? Or, at the other extreme, follow Libertarian advice and privatize all education. What about banning unions and empowering parents? Or applying a newfangled electronic gizmo? Or, do we pump yet more money into educational research to finally discover the magic bullet miracle?

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013...xzz2c9Z5NeAf



http://www.americanthinker.com/2013...madness.html
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rayg50
Male Moderator
2083 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 08/16/2013 :  3:43 PM
Mind drift time caused by those who say they never use what math taught them.

A couple of the many things math taught me.
-----------------------
If A = B
and B = C
then A = C

So if politician A has agenda B, and politician C has agenda B, then then politician A and politician B are the same, regardless of what they call themselves or what parties they belong to. Don't be surprised when agenda B comes around.
------------------------
1 + 2 + 3

Do this math a million times and the result is not going to change. If you expect it to yield different results then see Einstein's definition of insanity. If you do something 2 or 3 times and get the same unwanted result then change what you are doing.
------------------------
(1 / 2 + 3 * 6 - 18.5)^2

The order in which you do things in life can matter. Don't switch around the order (sequence) and wonder why you don't get things right. BTW, if you don't believe me ask any musician.

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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1740 Posts
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Omaha, NE
USA

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Road King

Posted - 08/30/2013 :  1:58 PM
This essay sums up quite nicely the uniquely American challenges facing k-12 education, especially as regards unions, vouchers, "equality" and money. There is no simple solution.

http://patriotpost.us/opinion/19754
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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1740 Posts
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Omaha, NE
USA

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Road King

Posted - 09/05/2013 :  8:01 AM
Following on the heels of our successful national health care system (where states have final say), and in an effort to raise the math and reading scores of our youth, meet our national education system. See, the way to raise our kids' scores is to lower the standards (and expectations), and the really great part is that kids will feel good about themselves.

In our new math, 1 + 1 = 9 if the teacher likes the way you got there.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/08/3...t=latestnews

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