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The Failure of American High Schools and Your Solutions!

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posted on Feb, 28 2005 @ 10:57 AM
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We all know it to be true; or at least, should know it by now. It's one of those things we've been talking about for almost twenty years, and the only attempt at resolution has been to throw money at it. There are alternatives for the wealthy, but for those of us who are at the mercy of the public school system, American High Schools are failing the grade...hard.

National News and International News are already touting the obvious. The situation has become so bad that even the known educational philantropist Bill Gates is "appalled" and "ashamed" at the state of U.S. High Schools.

Gates, whose founddation has donated $2.3 billion to education since 1999, has begun to lead a crusade of his own for High School reform in Washington State.


from The Seattle Times:
Gates said that he wants to emphasize the "three R's — rigor, relevance and relationships." By that, he means stronger curricula (rigor), better preparation for work and higher education (relevance), and a school structure where students have more support from teachers and counselors (relationships).


But is the problem so easily truncated with three buzzwords?

It seems that there are some core failures inherent to the system that have been plaguing it since the 1970's, and with each passing year, we add more failures to it. Just a few of the issues are:


  • Terrified Teachers - As scary as "old Ms. Crabtree" may have been to us as children, with her stern look and her threats of giving out detention for the slightest disturbance, her fears make ours seem miniscule in proportion. Between the fact that teacher receive awful pay, are under constant threat of lawsuit, threats from students, have parents yelling at them on one side, the school board yelling on the other, and even so much as an allegation of misconduct can ruin their career, there really isn't much incentive for anyone to be a High School teacher. In fact, the only ones likely to be a teacher under those circumstances are those naive enough to think they can change the system, are out for revenge, or who couldn't manage a successful career elsewhere. To coin an old cliche, they are overworked, underpaid, overstressed, and under-respected.

    • Nationally the median salary for high school teachers is $43,950 per year. Half of all high school teachers earn between $34,660 and $55,430 per year. While this may seem like a lot to some those without a college degree, it is $5,000 less than the average lowest-paying jobs with the same educational requirement. With the same time investment in education, and deciding to work in the field, rather than teach, one can expect an average starting salary of $60,000.

    • Though they are on the front lines of the battle to educate students, teachers are given virtually no avenue for attempting to change the system, or even to complain. Even so much as writing a letter to an editor to complain about misappropriation of school funding can get a teacher fired. Teachers are expected to get on board and shut up, rather than put their skills to use in figuring out a way to better the system.

    • No one listens to the teachers. Many teachers seem on the verge of emotional collapse, judging from their blogs. Their students don't listen, the school board doesn't listen, the parents don't listen. By the occupation's very nature, one would think the one person we should listen to is a teacher, yet they are ignored. For those of you in end-user tech support, think of taking 20-40 calls at the exact same time, except in-person, and you usually have to stand, and multiply the amount of bosses looking over your shoulder by the number of students.

  • Scared Students - If it's bad for the teachers, imagine how it is for the students. Not only are they not paid to be at school, they are under constant threat from their parents for failing, their teachers for discipline, and other students for their valuables. Even life is not sacrosact, the wrong word in a highschool might just get a student killed. That, combined with the natural disinterest any child will have for school, and an outmoded curriculum they cannot see, causes as many problems in the school, as the school itselves.

    • A lot of students just aren't interested in the material. And for the most part, they shouldn't be. What do most greasemonkeys care about the subtle nuances of Shakespeare? What bookworm is going to care about working proofs for algerbraic equations? Though most students have no idea what they want to do for their careers later on in life, they usually have a very good idea of what they do not want anything to do with. In order to maintain an active interest in the student body, high schools need to be tailored towards the students interests, and applied towards real-world work skills. Instead, students are given the same bland blend of generic classes, of which they may only take a mild interest in one or two. Learning will never be "cool" for adolescents, but at least it can and should be "applicable".

    • Students are in the process of enormous physical hormonal changes, causing depression and other emotional problems in school. This is not only rarely talked about to the students themselves, but also rarely addressed. Few parents and teachers want to deal with student emotional problems, and the students themselves haven't figured out how to deal with it either. Teenage suicides barely merit a mention on the news, nowadays. Generally a shooting needs to be involved. The students need to be made constantly aware of avenues of support, from parenting, to counselors, to teachers, nurses, to peer groups, and in extreme cases, doctors and medication. This requires not only communication on the part of the student, but from the educational community as well.

  • Stupifying Schools - Even if the pay rate for teachers was raised, the student body well disciplined and interested in learning, and the parents allowed the school to do its job, there are still critical failures within the very foundation of the institution. High Schools, by their design, give students too much knowledge in the areas they do not want and do not need, and not enough in areas that will prepare them for the realities of life in the working world. Except, possibly, in the sports department.

    • Sports Programs are overstressed in nearly every school. Those on "the team" are given a nod through most classes, and "No Pass No Play" often only seems to apply to secondary programs like band, choir, drama, and other non-sports. Those on sports teams will have very little trouble getting tutoring from teachers and volunteers alike, and the teachers will often be browbeaten by the community into passing them, or giving extra credit. This aura of elitism doesn't end here. Jocks are often allowed disciplinary infractions far beyond what would even be accepted by a criminal court, while students performing the same acts would be suspended or even expelled. If one ever wondered why the sports stars of today seem to consist primarily of drug-addicted, spouse-abusing, hotel trashing primates, one need look no further than their origins: the High School. The parents will not control them, the teachers can't, and the schoolboard flat out refuses. The only ones ever likely to stop them are the victims of the jocks, and
      in a very permanent way.

    • Classes need to focus less on traditional and more on progressive learning. The careers in the current market consist primarily of specialists. There are very few occupations where a broad-base of poorly taught and poorly learned skills will get one ahead. Additionally, students graduate (or drop out of) high school with very little understanding of anything involving non-career maintenance of their lives. Home-Ec should focus less on cooking, and more on the things that matter, such as explaining credit scores, what's involved in buying a house, how not to get caught up in scams, how to put together a good resume, how to budget one's money, how to take care of credit problems, filling out tax forms, and how to save for the future.



I am presently writing a book on how to deal with the problems of today's High Schools, and how to correct the problem using an entirely different system. If anyone besides myself finds this of interest, if not for you, then for your future children or grandchildren, please feel free to discuss your views here.




posted on Feb, 28 2005 @ 12:57 PM
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Its such a relief to see something constructive on this forum other than the usual "All the governments are secretly against us and want us all dead" threads. You get my vote for way up if there was karma on here K+. Awsome I just got out of highschool and although I had a very enjoyable time it's true everything your saying. You might wanna add that some teachers need to be screened and monitored more cause some are just nuts when there away from there peers.



posted on Feb, 28 2005 @ 01:25 PM
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I understand that your topic is covering only one educational area: highschool, but I want to make it clear that the problem begins long before kids get to high school.

Education is a step-by-step grade-by-grade process, and as such, if the high schools are falining, then middle schools and elementary schools are likewise failing.

Educational reform in the U.S. has been under debate for quite a number of years and has just begun to reach critical mass. Reform must happen and happen soon. Not with small steps, but with with significant progress showing steps. Anything else is a temporary bandaid.
Educational Reform
Education Reform
Systemic Education Reform.

The list can go on.




seekerof



posted on Feb, 28 2005 @ 01:33 PM
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Excellent post.


I'm curious what your "enitrely different system" would be though, unless that's a closely held secret at this point.


I'm skiddish here because as you must know public education is being used as a political issue now by those that seek to destroy it. They in fact, do all they can to sabotage it, as further evidence it's failing. (Sounds like social security).

They want public education gone, privatized, Christianized, prioritized, available for their kids, but not all kids...

Mind you I'm frequently tempted to go to into the rope business and sell people whatever they want just to prove a point, but I'm not just ready to abandon America just yet.

For example, school vouchers for people that send their kids to private or faith based schools, because they aren't using what they're paying for in taxes.
Better idea, same logic. How about a tax break for people with no kids instead? Doesn't that make more sense? Wouldn't that be the conservative taxation without representation argument? In fact, let's pay gays to marry. Makes perfect sense to me!

And the mantra to stop rewarding failure. Okay. Can we do it at the state level? Let's just stop throwing federal money at those red state money pits entirely. In fact, let's condemn a few outright.

And you want more competition? Let's compete then. Blue state's can teach/pay/fund how they want, and the rest can do whatever they want (home school/church school/teach creationism/prayer/young earth). Then we'll just see how that works out won't we?

Okay, so I'm not that skiddish here after all.



posted on Feb, 28 2005 @ 01:58 PM
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Good post. ditto what RANT said.

...IMO - Public education is the cornerstone of democracy. And like everything else democratic, it's under attack and in danger of being destroyed.

...We're dealing with a backdoor quota system - certain kinds of kids from certain kinds of families are chosen to be educated as managers and professionals. The rest are left to sink or swim, and make their own way. ...The current kafuffle is more about about 'appropriate indoctrination' of the lower classes.


A broad and general education is essential IMO. Change the presentation, don't censor the knowledge.

...My pet peeve: 'Special education' encompasses disabled kids needs and advanced kids needs in many states. ...Disabled kids needs are very costly - and the plug has been pulled on the whole program. Dumb. ...The $$$ for disabled special needs should come from a different pot entirely - and advanced kids need the programs.



.



posted on Feb, 28 2005 @ 02:13 PM
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Originally posted by Civil44
Its such a relief to see something constructive on this forum other than the usual "All the governments are secretly against us and want us all dead" threads. You get my vote for way up if there was karma on here K+. Awsome I just got out of highschool and although I had a very enjoyable time it's true everything your saying. You might wanna add that some teachers need to be screened and monitored more cause some are just nuts when there away from there peers.


Thank you!

Screening teachers is indeed going to be neccesary. What I hope to accomplish is a highschool that operates a lot more like a college, where one's curriculum stacks over time, and students can focus on a few general paths or, if approved, a custom path.

Though there would still be something of a numerical ranking system for grades, the primary focus would be on levels of mastery. Perhaps something like Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master, in various fields related to the real-life workforce and acting as a segway to help kids learn what is required of them in a degree in that field.

Levels of mastery could be achieved as soon as the student displays sufficient skill in that area in front of a panel of instructors of that field, thus accounting for child prodigies. For instance, if a 1st year high school student manages to conduct a beautiful symphony on their first day, they could conceivably attain the Master level within the field of Music. These levels would then transfer as either college prerequisites or college credit. A journeyman level, for instance, woud probably meet all prerequisites for all accredited universities, whereas a master level would count as college credit towards some of the beginning course, perhaps starting them off in some junior or senior level courses.

Classes would be complimentary subsets of the levels of mastery. For instance, a gearhead student who wishes to persue a path in machinery would be required to learn enough of the english language to be able to understand the complex manuals, whereas he would not be required to memorize Robert Frost's "The Road Less Travelled". He would need a good amount of math to understand the fractions and ratios, along with various geometric formulas. He'd need some artistic classes to give him an appreciation of aesthetics and spacial proportions, but not need to learn the history of Picasso's Blue period. By the time the student reaches a level of Mastery, he should not only be able to design an engine from scratch, repair it, and write a technical manual on it, but also have a fundamental knowledge of many of the basic skills required to do those things.

One of the most common objections I've heard to date is that most children have no idea what they want to be while in school. To that I say, they know what they are interested in, and this allows them to pursue it and find if they have what it takes to do more. If they change their mind, those subset classes still count for credit towards another path, so long as they apply. They could change their mind a hundred times, and still gain a solid education in the basics that society requires to get by. Perhaps one reason children have no idea what they want to be is because they have no idea what is required of them for a particular field. Perhaps it is because current High Schools do not provide enough material in the subjects they are interested in. This plan would account for both of these problems.

Lastly, and perhaps too much to hope for, since the students are actually being given an education in a field they have an active interest in at the time, they might be more interested in learning, even the less "fun" classes, because they are able to tangibly draw a connection on why it is required, and how it will apply to their lives later on.



posted on Feb, 28 2005 @ 02:22 PM
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I hope it's ok if I add to the conversation, it's my first time here. I see you have all written a lot and after reading it I must say that at this site a lot of thought goes into writing.

I went to high school Southern California, and while I was fortunate to go to a great school many were not. We've all heard about the underfunding and staffing of schools. Have we all heard about the padlocking of school doors because schools are too full? How about the tiles falling from the ceilings during class? These are some of the problems in our inner-cities albiet the locked door case was reported on the east coast (southwest d.c.) to be exact.

So in my opinon [thelibra] it is a question of money and attitudes of the taxpayers surrounding the schools. The solution is an effective media campaign to shame the nation into funding the schools, faculty and staff.

The problem of our high schools does start at earlier levels as someone stated earlier, but our responsibility to create harmonious learning environments for young adults is very important. Without proper funding and staffing of schools are students will have no guide through these very important adolescent years.



posted on Feb, 28 2005 @ 02:23 PM
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Brilliant post


Sadly i've run out of way above this month


Although the education system in the UK is different from the US system I can see some areas where the UK could do with looking more closely at the problems and solutions with US style education.
Both countries could learn alot from each other.

Particullarly sports which seem to have a large role in the US and a minimal role in the UK.



posted on Feb, 28 2005 @ 02:39 PM
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I think preschool is important, you must catch kids as early as possible as the brain is more pliable to learn math/language skills and more open to learn social behaviour, work-ethics etc. rather than have them figure that out on high schools with cars, guns and crack around....

Comparatively how is the situation in Canada?


[edit on 28-2-2005 by Countermeasures]



posted on Feb, 28 2005 @ 03:00 PM
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In my opinion... you see, people do have a predisposition. For example, if someone is predisposed for music, he on his own would be looking for ways of how to learn it, buy instruments, etc. If someone is predisposed for being a Personality or opening his own business, for thinking with his own head, he will be looking for his ways of doing it. He would look for information on the subjects he needs and, in the best case, would be smart enough to ignore subjects ( school ) that he considers useless.

Yet, unfortunately, most today people do have a predisposition for nothing. They aren't interested in work on improving themselves, they aren't interested in trying to think with their own head. They are a crowd of zombies and are happy with it. Therefor they will fit very well into a school that would hammer "this is good, that is bad. You should do so and so. This and this is possible and that and that is not possible. This are your friends and that are your enemies, go shoot them!" into their heads. They would fit well into a school that, little by little, would turn them into the "sleeping people". It's hard to describe... look at little children, or remember yourself at the age of 5 or 8, for example. Everything, the world around, looks new, unknown, interesting and fascinating. Now look at some "old" people, who, while thinking that they know everything, in reality are "living" each day by the same pattern as the day before, by the same pattern as everybody around them does.
You can remove millions of this people from the face of the earth and no one would even notice.

On the other side, some believe that lots to kids born today are predisposed for truly being a Person. Some call them Indigos...

Anyway, if one wants to be a Personality, he would rather not go to school just because everybody does so, but would look himself for info about, would start asking questions...

- What, who is a Personality? What makes one a Personality? What is charisma? What is success? Why one man is successful and another is not? Is a millionaire a man with a 1000.000 $ or a man with a specific way of thinking? What is this way of thinking? How can it be developed? Where happiness in life is hidden? What is the meaning of life? If last month I got Deja Vu for a few seconds in which I saw the future event, could this state be trained? And so on and so on, and so on.

Some answers could be found in books like

"Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money--That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!"

"The Instant Millionaire: A Tale of Wisdom and Wealth"

"The Way of the Wizard"

...and many, many others.



posted on Feb, 28 2005 @ 06:52 PM
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Hello everyone, sorry it took me so long to respond, but there were a lot of people to reply to, and of course, the fiance had a honey-do list for me when I got home... Anyway... onwards with the replies


Originally posted by Seekerof
I understand that your topic is covering only one educational area: highschool, but I want to make it clear that the problem begins long before kids get to high school.



Originally posted by Countermeasures
I think preschool is important, you must catch kids as early as possible as the brain is more pliable to learn math/language skills and more open to learn social behaviour, work-ethics etc. rather than have them figure that out on high schools with cars, guns and crack around....


I could not agree with both of you more. The years leading up to High School are extremely important, developmentally. In my proposed public school system, there would be two schools. Be advised, the names are still arbitrary. Right now I'm just addressing concept labels.

BASIC SCHOOL - This would be more like the traditional elementary school, and would lay the foundation for children later on. The focus would be primarily on the following:

  • Reading, Writing, Arithmatic - The basic skills we are all in need of, everyday. The ability to read a book, write, basic math.

  • Secondary Languages - Note the plurality. Children would be started off early in a bilingual program of their parents choice, but also exposed to other languages to develop the tongue and mind for epiglottal sounds and concepts of other languages.

  • Current Events - Children would be started off early in learning everything from political to science advancements throughout the world. Class discussions would focus on explanation and debate about these events to expose them to varying viewpoints.

  • Basic Arts - Painting, Music, Poetry, Literature, Sculpture, etc. Children would be exposed in small segments each class to varying forms, to match their attention span. Perhaps 2-3 different media per class. Long enough for them to find an appreciation for some form of art.

  • Resource Usage - Learning how to choose and use the right resources in life to find what one needs. Everything from the Library Card Catalogue, to internet search engines. This will better prepare them for their assignments in the future as well as get them thinking away from "Ask Mom and Dad".

  • Basic Sciences - The basics of how the world around us works, Biology, Chemistry, Physics etc.

  • Basic History - Would be far more limited than currently taught, but also more exhaustive. It would center around the U.S. Constitution, Ammendments to it, influential figures in American history, and significant events. State History would also come into play, but on a less exhaustive scale.



The Basic School would, in theory, expose them to enough different materials to give them an idea of what they may be interested in in the future. The idea is to give them what every adult needs to know, without overwhelming the student with things they don't need to worry about until Secondary School. Additionally, there would be more field trips of actual use. Going to see the monkeys at the zoo is all fine and dandy, but few things inspire a child as much as seeing a career in action. While the zookeeper is a noble profession, there are many others to consider as well.

Basic School would last until about age 10.

SECONDARY SCHOOL - Pretty much what I was talking about in my earlier post. It would start at around age 10, and students would then pick a curriculum path that can be changed after any school year, but not before. This would teach the student to put some real thought into their future education, as well as some of learn the consequences of a bad choice, while at the same time, allowing for change in the near future. Subset skills such as additional language or history or math needed would be carried over into each path they applied to, or held till such time as they did apply, so the penalty for switching would be minimal.

Students would be required to attend until legal working age for the state, or until they turn 18, unless determined by a panel that Mastery level had been achieved to the point where the child would be able to work within career, as well as work in basic functional jobs, should they fail.

The basic idea is that a student could graduate with several levels of mastery in a variety of subjects if they applied themselves and had the skills to do so, or at the very least, have attained enough knowledge to be able to get a job. Ultimately, of course, the student would be better prepared for college.


Originally posted by RANT
They want public education gone, privatized, Christianized, prioritized, available for their kids, but not all kids...


With The Libra System (just kidding, no idea what it'd be called), school would be quite strictly non-secular. Religions have their own schools for that sort of thing, and the added agendas have no place in the public school system. Moments of silence and such can be observed, but the nonsense of balancing creationism and evolution is for the church, not the schools. If a particular religion doesn't like it, then I suggest they start their own system. It is, after all, a free country, and God-willing, will remain so.


Originally posted by RANT
For example, school vouchers for people that send their kids to private or faith based schools, because they aren't using what they're paying for in taxes.
Better idea, same logic. How about a tax break for people with no kids instead? Doesn't that make more sense? Wouldn't that be the conservative taxation without representation argument?


Technically, no, it's represented in City Hall, in ink, on the city budget.
However, you will be happy to know that thanks to several cost-saving measures, schools will be as cheap, if not cheaper, to maintain. Additionally, since the input of the teaching staff would be valued, future cost-saving features may be added. The initial cost is the most prohibitive, because it would require each school to basically be built and staffed from the ground-up.


Originally posted by RANT
And the mantra to stop rewarding failure. Okay. Can we do it at the state level? Let's just stop throwing federal money at those red state money pits entirely. In fact, let's condemn a few outright.

And you want more competition? Let's compete then. Blue state's can teach/pay/fund how they want, and the rest can do whatever they want (home school/church school/teach creationism/prayer/young earth).


While this isn't really the thread for political slings, I see where you are coming from. The school itself would be separate from politics and religion. While the free exchange of ideas would be encouraged, the school system should operate the same regardless of who is in power of what city or state or nation.



Originally posted by soficrow
A broad and general education is essential IMO. Change the presentation, don't censor the knowledge.


I both agree and disagree with this. The basic foundation is essential, but what good is teaching a child interested in sciences about the subtle nuances of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, as beuatiful as it is? What benefit will a student with her heart set on music gain from being forced to memorize the dates of each war in Europe and the major players? The science-minded child could better spend their time, and the school's resources, on learning the subtle nuances of physics, and the musical student would better spend it on learning the history of the Classical Composers.


Originally posted by soficrow
...My pet peeve: 'Special education' encompasses disabled kids needs and advanced kids needs in many states. ...Disabled kids needs are very costly - and the plug has been pulled on the whole program. Dumb. ...The $$$ for disabled special needs should come from a different pot entirely - and advanced kids need the programs.


Sadly, I have no answer yet for what to do with the mentaly disabled child. I leave that for those who can design a school to help overcome those difficulties. As for the physically handicapped, they would be put through the same program as everyone else, and the school system designed with their needs in mind. For the severely physically disabled, those confined to a bed, or long treatments that cause absences, an inexpensive touchscreen multimedia kit could be provided for home use that can be operated with a pencil, and broadcast to remotely. Such a unit would most likely even be paid for by charities.


Originally posted by denyignorance
I hope it's ok if I add to the conversation, it's my first time here. I see you have all written a lot and after reading it I must say that at this site a lot of thought goes into writing.


Thank you. And everyone is always welcome to join in any of my threads.


Originally posted by denyignorance
Have we all heard about the padlocking of school doors because schools are too full? How about the tiles falling from the ceilings during class?


I wasn't aware of the "too full" reason for schools, but I was aware of it happening to prevent bad elements from entering the schools, such as gang leaders and drug dealers (RE: the movie "Lean on Me")


Originally posted by denyignorance
So in my opinon [thelibra] it is a question of money and attitudes of the taxpayers surrounding the schools. The solution is an effective media campaign to shame the nation into funding the schools, faculty and staff.
(snip)
...Without proper funding and staffing of schools are students will have no guide through these very important adolescent years.



Some ways I intend to cut costs while offer a higher-quality education:

  • Modular Buildings - Far from the old shacks of our youth, there are modular buildings out there that can be designed and mass-produced into ready-made classrooms. They are stackable and expandable, and aesthetically pleasing, as from the inside, one would hardly know, and from the outside, a facade is easily added. The more you need, the cheaper they are. Additionally, they can be fairly easily moved to meet with the changing needs of a city.

  • Legal Team - In every state, there are lawyers working for the state who are literally sitting around waiting for a case. Some of them are on rotation as a public service or a tax writeoff, and others literally work for the state. Each school would have a qualified defense attourney prepared to defend the teacher or school board in the event of allegations. Cases would be handled in a court of law, rather than in some principal's back office, and if a teacher were found innocent, they would be exonerated of all charges. Any principal caught attempting to settle matters by way of a handshake would be shown the door. I will not allow perfectly good teachers to have their careers ruined because some kid wanted some extra attention that month. These lawyers are not only free, but the defense of the teacher adds some job security as well as reducing turnaround. For those that wish to file charges against the school, they would be directed towards the lawyers sitting around in the state capital.

  • Up to Date Equipment - Ask any warehouse manager and he will tell you the same thing: Outdated equipment costs more to maintain and produces less in terms of productivity. The schools would be outfitted with functional up to date equipment in the inital build, and upgraded every few years to account for new technology. Though the cost of the equipment itself may be large, the overall budget will be more efficient and less wasteful than with outmoded equipment.

  • Year-Round Schooling - Teachers could be offered a raise, attracting higher-quality mentors, while getting more work out of them and the staff. The days of the old agrarian school-system are numbered. While we all enjoyed summer breaks, the sheer amount of material lost costs the schools a large sum to re-teach, as well as paying the teachers and staff to take three months off.


Originally posted by UK Wizard
Brilliant post

Sadly i've run out of way above this month



Thank you! It's the thought that counts.



Originally posted by UK Wizard
Although the education system in the UK is different from the US system I can see some areas where the UK could do with looking more closely at the problems and solutions with US style education. Both countries could learn alot from each other.
Particullarly sports which seem to have a large role in the US and a minimal role in the UK.


I would love to see an end to the Sports-Gods that plagues our schools. I have no problem with sports being played, and indeed would prefer us to return to the traditional method of trying to beat the competition, rather than this horrible mentality that "Everyone wins keeps the kids happy." In real life, in any occupation, not everyone wins. Those who put the most effort and training into their lives, win.

As for a cooperation between the UK and the US, I think that would be fantastic. While obviously funding would probably not cross over (I can only change the world one thing at a time), at the very least, an exchange of ideas is possible. And with global networking, it is quite possible that children from many countries can attend the same class, or in special weekly meet-and-greets over the net, giving them access to other culture's ideas and personalities.


Originally posted by bratok
In my opinion... you see, people do have a predisposition. For example, if someone is predisposed for music, he on his own would be looking for ways of how to learn it, buy instruments, etc.


Yes and no. Ray Charles, were it not for an old piano his mother happened to have, might never have amounted to anything other than a poor blind man. Without the neccesary resources, the passionate flame for any subject can gutter out. The school system I am proposing would hopefully provide enough resources publicly for the aspiring student to explore many many avenues in life.


Originally posted by bratok
If someone is predisposed for being a Personality or opening his own business, for thinking with his own head, he will be looking for his ways of doing it. He would look for information on the subjects he needs and, in the best case, would be smart enough to ignore subjects ( school ) that he considers useless.


True, but I know at least 100 people who have "a great idea" for business. Yet they don't know the first thing about finances, or even budgeting their income to pay off debt and keep savings. It takes more than an idea or a pre-disposition, it takes the resources and education for how to do so.

Finally, there is "weeding through all the crap" out there. I've been extremely business minded for most of my life. I can't even count the number of books I've read about investing, saving, budgeting, financing, and so forth. Yet one small book, referred to me by my father after 29 years, finally taught me what I needed to know about personal savings and debt repayment. That one book, "The Richest Man in Babylon", has done more for me in 2 months than any of the others did in a lifetime. The school would be a shortcut to that kind of information.


Originally posted by bratok
Yet, unfortunately, most today people do have a predisposition for nothing.


One of the ways I hope to dissuade students from this is field trips to McDonald's, or a gas station, and have them interview the guy who cleans the toilets or takes out the trash, and then contrast it with a field trip to some other place, such as a Law Firm, and let them see the new porche, the polished oak desk, and so on... and let them draw their own conclusions without hammering it into their heads.

If they still opt for the approach to nothing, and no amount of interviews, counseling, exposure to various walks of life, give them any ideas of what to do, and they choose not to do any schoolwork, then they will graduate a useless member of society, and the next year, we'll take a fieldtrip to watch them clean a toilet. There is only so much responsibility the school can take, the rest is up to the parents and the child.


Originally posted by bratok
You can remove millions of this people from the face of the earth and no one would even notice.


My grandmother is one of those useless people you mentioned. She sits in her chair, all day, basically waiting until Sunday, when our whole family goes to lunch. She enjoys it, because she feels she's earned her rest. She doesn't even manage her own money anymore. She's rude, opinionated, somewhat racist, and can often compete quite well with the great grandchildren for attention by throwing a tantrum.

Yet if anyone were to ever lay a hand on her, that'd be the last thing they were ever able to do with that hand, short of a medical miracle. We love her dearly. She spent 3 generations raising kids, and has buried almost all of her siblings, half of her children, and some of her grandchildren. Though she no longer contributes anything more than the occasional interesting old person story, she is a valued and beloved member of my family. Per your definition, she is a zombie, but were she gone tomorrow, I would miss her dearly for the rest of my life.



posted on Mar, 1 2005 @ 04:34 AM
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My grandmother is one of those useless people you mentioned. She sits in her chair, all day, basically waiting until Sunday, when our whole family goes to lunch. She enjoys it, because she feels she's earned her rest. She doesn't even manage her own money anymore. She's rude, opinionated, somewhat racist, and can often compete quite well with the great grandchildren for attention by throwing a tantrum.

Yet if anyone were to ever lay a hand on her, that'd be the last thing they were ever able to do with that hand, short of a medical miracle. We love her dearly. She spent 3 generations raising kids, and has buried almost all of her siblings, half of her children, and some of her grandchildren. Though she no longer contributes anything more than the occasional interesting old person story, she is a valued and beloved member of my family. Per your definition, she is a zombie, but were she gone tomorrow, I would miss her dearly for the rest of my life.


I in no way wanted to offend normal people in general or your grandmother in particular... Yet, you see, very few people out of millions do change or improve anything. There are millions of programmers and only one Bill Gates. There are very few people, who can say that they live their lives as full as possible, that they do not regret anything, that they can fully enjoy today without worrying about tomorrow.



One of the ways I hope to dissuade students from this is field trips to McDonald's, or a gas station, and have them interview the guy who cleans the toilets or takes out the trash, and then contrast it with a field trip to some other place, such as a Law Firm, and let them see the new porche, the polished oak desk, and so on... and let them draw their own conclusions without hammering it into their heads.


Great idea! Yet, maybe the Law Firm isn't truly the top of the world? Maybe there's something more then that? Also that trips might show an interesting thing - the guy behind the polished oak desk is not always much happier then the one behind the counter in a gas station...

And that raises another questions that normal school, as well as normal people, tend to ignore.

- Is a job behind an oak desk a key to happiness? What is happiness, what makes one happy?

- If academic education is so important for successful life, how comes that at least half of most successful people ( according to Forbes ) haven't graduated from collage?

- What is success and what leads to it, if not academic knowledge ?

- Why kids have beautiful silence in their heads, while grown-ups have lots and lots of different distractive thoughts running around?

- Why kids can just run around and be happy, but grown-ups can't ?

- If you take 10 cards, label one as a "best path", another one as a "worst path" and other as "neutral path" and place them on the table, face down. A kid would, in most cases, pick the "best path", but a grown-up would, in most cases, pick the "worst path"... why is that?

And so on...



posted on Mar, 1 2005 @ 09:01 AM
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Originally posted by bratok
I in no way wanted to offend normal people in general or your grandmother in particular... Yet, you see, very few people out of millions do change or improve anything.


Oh, no offense taken. But what I tried to illustrate was that even people who do not technically contribute anything in terms of productivity or societal change, still have their place and use. For the youngest generation in my family, GG's job is simply to be the Great Grandmother, for the little ones to love, and hug, and have someone to show off towards. For my generation, her job is to provide some advice or examples on what it's like to be old. For my father, her job is to make him feel needed. Jobs, contributions, and productivity cannot always be measured by accomplishments--especially late in life.


Originally posted by bratok
Great idea! Yet, maybe the Law Firm isn't truly the top of the world? Maybe there's something more then that?


Well, yes, that's true. The Law Firm was pretty much just an example.


Originally posted by bratok
Also that trips might show an interesting thing - the guy behind the polished oak desk is not always much happier then the one behind the counter in a gas station...


Also true. There may be students who want nothing more than to be a gas station attendant. And that's fine, but that's also the point of exposure to other walks of life. The job of the school I propose is to provide the student the resources and potential to have a better chance of success after high school than the current system. We cannot make students achieve happiness, or force them to be productive citizens, but we can offer them the possibility of being so.


Originally posted by bratok
And that raises another questions that normal school, as well as normal people, tend to ignore.

- Is a job behind an oak desk a key to happiness? What is happiness, what makes one happy?


That's something everyone has to decide for themselves. For me, happiness is not related to my job. Happiness is when I look into the eyes of my fiance, or when I'm having a scotch and water with my father... those sorts of things.

Contentedness in the workplace, however, usually comes from being paid and treated well.


Originally posted by bratok
- If academic education is so important for successful life, how comes that at least half of most successful people ( according to Forbes ) haven't graduated from collage?


I can only guess, as it's likely a separate issue for each person. However, I can say that Forbes judges people by their net and income. Anyone...anyone can become as rich as they want to, and pass these riches through future generations, as long as they know "The Rules of Gold," and start early enough. Like you mentioned before, some people have the drive and determination to discover what they need to in order to achieve their dreams. Others do not. As previously stated by myself, no one can force a person to achieve their dreams, we can only provide an avenue by which it would be easier to do so.


Originally posted by bratok
- What is success and what leads to it, if not academic knowledge ?

31 Flavors of Ice Cream. A wife and 2.5 children. A fancy sports car. The Presidency of the United States...

What determines success, ultimately, is the attitude of the individual. A high-dollar stock-broker who has everything they want is no more or less successful than a poor Buddhist monk living on a rock in the middle of a desert, who has achieved enlightenment. Conversely, if the President of the United States is dissatisfied with his life, he has not achieved success.


Originally posted by bratok
- Why kids have beautiful silence in their heads, while grown-ups have lots and lots of different distractive thoughts running around?


Kids have anything but silence in their heads. If they do, it's because their mouths don't stay closed long enough for the head to fill up with thoughts. Children generally over-analyze, are extremely anal-rententive, and obsess about the most minor things. The illusion that childhood is some sort of paradise is just that, an illusion. Children spend most of their time wishing they were older, whereas the old spend most of their time wishing they were young again.


Originally posted by bratok
- Why kids can just run around and be happy, but grown-ups can't ?


Few children just run around and be happy. Every stage of life has it's problems. Most of the time those problems are quite minor, compared to the problems one will face a decade later. We encounter and hopefully overcome these problems in time to deal with a whole new set of them. The problems I had when I was 19 are nothing compared to the problems I have at 29. When I was 9, I thought the world was collapsing around me, but when I was 19, it all seemed trivial compared to the horrors I had to deal with. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say Old People are usually the happiest of all, because they are usually, by that time, free of responsibility, have watched their families sprout and bloom, and can now just enjoy the passing of days.


Originally posted by bratok
- If you take 10 cards, label one as a "best path", another one as a "worst path" and other as "neutral path" and place them on the table, face down. A kid would, in most cases, pick the "best path", but a grown-up would, in most cases, pick the "worst path"... why is that?


I have no idea. I guess children have a better capacity for clairvoyance than adults?



posted on Mar, 1 2005 @ 03:02 PM
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Why hasn't anyone created the Virtual High School yet? God, we can create whole worlds (pick a game!) but we can't make a High School for PS2 yet? Are you telling me a parent will cough up 49.00 for a game, but not the same amount money if it means getting the kid a 3.0 GPA or better?

What kid wouldn't DO this?

Finish the course, and SONY sends you your deploma...I LIKE IT!

[edit on 1-3-2005 by Toelint]



posted on Mar, 1 2005 @ 05:59 PM
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Rant starts off by suggesting a Statist "solution" to a problem of Statist proportions:

"….And you want more competition? Let's compete then. Blue state's can teach/pay/fund how they want, and the rest can do whatever they want (home school/church school/teach creationism/prayer/young earth). Then we'll just see how that works out won't we? "

Here's a different suggestion, Rant:

Why not let me choose what school I want my kid to go to -- and you choose what school you want your kid to go to?

It’s pretty obvious that the government-monopoly schools have failed. The amount of taxpayer money thrown at the monopoly schools doesn’t seem to make much difference; DC has the highest per-student spending in the United States, but, compared to the other states, the second-worst schools in the nation.

But regardless of the monies spent by the monopoly-schools, the freedom-of-choice schools, whether run by the Catholics, Lutherans, Montessori, or just private companies, seem to get by on about 60 percent of the average per-capita spending by the government-monopoly schools, and have about the same success rate as measured by the usual gaggle of nationwide tests.

Competition results in better quality for less money. If you think the folks at Ford build poor trucks, you can always get a Chevy or Nissan. You got a problem with Nikes? Buy Reeboks or even Doc Martens.

And of all the commodities available today, I can’t think of one which is more important than education.

So why aren’t we competing education?

Some of the defenders of the government-monopoly schools rail against freedom-of-choice schools by saying ”I don’t want my tax money used to fund religious schools!”

But that’s a red herring. What they’re really saying is that they don’t want your tax money to be spent the way you want it to -- regardless of what kind of school you prefer!

Some of these same defenders wail about if there were freedom of choice for schools, they’d skim the cream of the crop and leave the government-monopoly schools to take care of the problem kids.

But that’s not true either. Freedom-of-choice schools will go where the money is, and people (either parents, Medicaid, social security, company health care plans, etc.) will pay good money to educate the kids who don’t fit into today’s government-monopoly schools.

These same monopolists say that inner city kids will be unable to “afford” the cost of a freedom-of-choice school (of course, their parents can afford to pay the taxes, but forget about that). They cry that, again, the freedom-of-choice schools will get the rich White kids and the government-monopoly schools will be stuck with the minorities.

That’s gotta be one of the most racist arguments I’ve heard in a while. Don’t the monopolists realize that minority parents care even more about the quality of education their kids get (or in this case, aren’t getting)? It’s the parents of kids who live in the inner city and rural areas, disproportionately minority, that have the most to gain by having a real choice for their kids.

Besides, there’re two ways that every kid in the country can afford the school of his choice One way would be tax credits to people who pay taxes, and assignable tax credits to businesses to provide to the people who don’t qualify for tax credits. Another way would be tax credits to the taxpayers and cash grants to any other parent for the same amount as the tax credits.

All of the common arguments against freedom-of-choice schools can be answered pretty easily, except for he last one:

If we have freedom-of-choice schools, it’ll drive the government-monopoly schools out of business.

Hel-looooo! Of course it will! If I set up an eatery right next to a McDonald’s specializing in rotten pickles and buttermilk specials for ten dollars, I’d go out of business, too!

One real reasons the government-monopoly schools are so hysterically defended is that about half of the government-monopoly schoolteachers would probably lose their jobs because their schools would go out of business, especially if their government-monopoly school was a poor one. And what would happen to those teachers? Well, the good ones would be able to free-agent their skills and have the new freedom-of-choice schools compete for them, the poor teachers would have to get a different kind of job, which is a good thing, because we don’t want to have our kids turned over to incompetents, anyway!

Another real reason that the government-monopoly schools have their backs to the wall is that the government-monopoly supporters have their own agenda for our kids: It’s a one-size-fits-all approach, a mechanism sure to upset the bulk of the parents. The Educational bureaucracy has its own idea of what type of education and teaching methodology is the best approach, and all students will be stuck with it.

Yet the parents, who are the ones both legally and morally responsible for their children, should have the right to choose whether they want their kid to go to a school with uniforms, strict discipline (or not); a religious education (or not); heavy science and math instruction (or not); lots of art and sports (or not), and so on.

And, of course, freedom-of-choice schools give the parents and students exactly that: Freedom of Choice.

It’s that freedom that the monopolists want to steal from you, and the future they want to steal from your children.



posted on Mar, 1 2005 @ 07:12 PM
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Sadly, I have no answer yet for what to do with the mentaly disabled child. I leave that for those who can design a school to help overcome those difficulties. As for the physically handicapped, they would be put through the same program as everyone else, and the school system designed with their needs in mind. For the severely physically disabled, those confined to a bed, or long treatments that cause absences, an inexpensive touchscreen multimedia kit could be provided for home use that can be operated with a pencil, and broadcast to remotely. Such a unit would most likely even be paid for by charities.


not possible unless every special programs and devices are made cheap, even the most basic ones are so expensive the schools cant supply it to all who need it, plus not everyone disabled can use touch screens, many need things that work by eye movement, voice activation, etc which cost thousands, plus thousands for computers to operate them, print work, etc.

not to mention the high speed connections needed to broadcast to schools, the servers, etc...

you dont understand how expensive things are for disabled, even a manual wheel chair or hospital bed can cost 600 to 1000 dollars, heck combined my 2 wheel chairs was 25000 dollars, supply and demand are what makes things for us so expensive, you should understand special ed cznt be discarded, many cant be treated as everyone else especially ones who cant communicate as fast due to ms, cp, md, als, etc.



posted on Mar, 1 2005 @ 07:49 PM
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I believe the main problem of the failing public school system in America has to do directly with the parents and their involvement (or lack of).
Myself, I homeschool my 11 year-old son. I believe I can do a better
job than strangers that control my son's education, and thus, future.
We, as Americans, assume so much today that when we send them out the door, they're with trustworthy, educated people...sometimes that's not the case, however. We cannot assume, as a society, that are children are getting what they need in public schools. It is the parents responsibility to eucate a child- or be sure they are from somebody else. So many factors now hinder time that a family spends together. We're in a hurry to get home from work, make dinner, drag ourselves to bed to start the process all over again...our modern society is so fast-paced, most families simply don't have the time.......me, I've made time with my son's education.....when I hear the scary statistics about the poor condition of students graduating from school with little skills, poor spelling, etc. I am reminded that all this hard work and time invested in my son will be worth it in the end. I think it's fair to say that you cannot trust anybody with your kid's future- except yourself.

Krissy



posted on Mar, 2 2005 @ 09:12 AM
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krissyin OKC says:

"I believe the main problem of the failing public school system in America has to do directly with the parents and their involvement (or lack of). Myself, I homeschool my 11 year-old son. I believe I can do a better job than strangers that control my son's education, and thus, future."

You're probably right. You know your son better than anyone else, and have first-hand knowledge as to what ways he can learn most effectively. And it also appears that you understand that your obligation to your son is both a moral and legal one. You go, girl!

However, although you're fortunate to have the time and the will to teach your kid, many other people simplay aren't able to do so. For example, the single parent needs to feed and house her kids. Another parent might simply not have the patience or the communication skills to teach their kid(s) at all.

And even the parents like you, who have the time and ability to do this critical job, are forced to pay for a government-monopoly school for someone else's kids, yet no one else is helping you financially!

If you want the best for your children -- and, for whatever reason, you do not teach them yourselves -- it would seem that your next choice would be to find those educators who share your beliefs and insights in your kids' needs and skills, and hire them.

But, given the government-monopoly schools, you're not able to do that, since your money is taken from you to support a school that may or may not work for your kid. If you're rich, of coure, you can still pay for a freedom-of-choice school whild continuing to pony up the tax money for some one else's kid at the government-monopoly school.

But most of us aren't that well-off; we're forced by our budget to send our kids to the government-monoply school -- not because it's any good, but because we've already been forced to pay for it.ting what they need in public schools. It is the parents responsibility to eucate a child- or be sure they are from somebody else. So many factors now hinder time that a family spends together. We're in a hurry to get home from work, make dinner, drag ourselves to bed to start the process all over again...our modern society is so fast-paced, most families simply don't have the time.......me, I've made time with my son's education.....when I hear the scary statistics about the poor condition of students graduating from school with little skills, poor spelling, etc. I am reminded that all this hard work and time invested in my son will be worth it in the end. I think it's fair to say that you cannot trust anybody with your kid's future- except yourself.



posted on Mar, 2 2005 @ 09:19 AM
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the libra says:

"For the youngest generation in my family, GG's job is simply to be the Great Grandmother, for the little ones to love, and hug, and have someone to show off towards. For my generation, her job is to provide some advice or examples on what it's like to be old. For my father, her job is to make him feel needed. Jobs, contributions, and productivity cannot always be measured by accomplishments--especially late in life."

Well, I don't know what your views are on government-monopoly versus freedom-of-choice schools, and look forward to going round and round with you on this in the future.

But your quote above -- and the philosophy behind it -- is worth a WATS.


You have voted thelibra for the Way Above Top Secret award. You have two more votes this month.




posted on Mar, 2 2005 @ 09:32 AM
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I for one am proud of going to a state school and am proud to seen how my friends in high school grew into free thinking adults because of state education. I don't know how bad it is in the US (pretty bad since the rest of the industrialized world usually kicks America's ass at simple things like geography) or in the UK (I hear there's a lot of drug abuse in the UK education system, doesn't sound too good) but I believe that the education I received to be of the highest quality.

I believe in public education, I believe in education for all, I believe that parents should have choice and I will fight against those who wish to destroy the public system and replace it with a privatized education system.

thanks,
drfunk



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