Patterico's Pontifications

1/22/2017

Shocking Development: Throwing Money at Troubled Schools Doesn’t Seem to Accomplish Much

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:39 am



[guest post by JVW]

On the last full day in office for the 44th President, the Washington Post took a brief respite from its mostly fawning coverage of his eight-year reign to actually acknowledge an area in which the vaunted brilliance of the team of experts serving the Obama Administration was found to be a bit lacking. In an article titled “Obama administration spent billions to fix failing schools, and it didn’t work” [why do modern headlines no longer follow traditional rules of capitalization?] staff writer Emma Brown, who covers the education beat, paints a pretty disheartening picture of expensive government meddling failing to achieve its lofty goals (bolded emphasis is in all cases added by me):

Test scores, graduation rates and college enrollment were no different in schools that received money through the School Improvement Grants program — the largest federal investment ever targeted to failing schools — than in schools that did not.

The Education Department published the findings on the website of its research division on Wednesday, hours before President Obama’s political appointees walked out the door.

Pretty much the entire premise of the Obama Presidency is that credentialed “experts” chosen by progressive politicians and given largely unaccountable regulatory authorization can enact policies that benefit whatever area it is in which they are called upon to meddle. It goes without saying, of course, that the new and enlightened policies always involve significant increases in spending:

The School Improvement Grants program has been around since the administration of President George W. Bush, but it received an enormous boost under Obama. The administration funneled $7 billion into the program between 2010 and 2015 — far exceeding the $4 billion it spent on Race to the Top grants.

The money went to states to distribute to their poorest-performing schools — those with exceedingly low graduation rates, or poor math and reading test scores, or both. Individual schools could receive up to $2 million per year for three years, on the condition that they adopt one of the Obama administration’s four preferred measures: replacing the principal and at least half the teachers, converting into a charter school, closing altogether, or undergoing a “transformation,” including hiring a new principal and adopting new instructional strategies, new teacher evaluations and a longer school day.

The Education Department did not track how the money was spent, other than to note which of the four strategies schools chose.

And there you have it: money thrown at a problem without any understanding of how it is being used other than at a categorical big-picture level. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you progressive governance in the Obama Era. Of the four categories, which do you think were the most popular? Closing the school and starting over? Ending the tyranny of a union-dominated public school by replacing it with a more lean and lively charter school? Don’t kid yourselves, folks:

Just a tiny fraction of schools chose the most dramatic measures, according to the new study. Three percent became charter schools, and 1 percent closed. Half the schools chose transformation, arguably the least intrusive option available to them.

In other words, at least 95 percent of the schools — 19 out of every 20 of them — took the money, brought in new administration, made a few curriculum changes, purchased some tablet computers, and perhaps extended the school day by 30 minutes, yet failed to move the needle at all in terms of graduation rates and test scores.

If you think the outgoing Obama Administration education officials are embarrassed by these results, or even slightly chagrined by them for that matter, you haven’t been paying much attention to the Obama Administration over the past eight years. The reactions range from the standard claim that the results are incomplete:

[Education Department spokeswoman Dorie] Nolt emphasized that the study focused on schools that received School Improvement Grants money between 2010 and 2013. The administration awarded a total of $3.5 billion to those schools, most of it stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. “Since then,” she said, “the program has evolved toward greater flexibility in the selection of school improvement models and the use of evidence-based interventions.”

Never fear, friends: spokeswoman Nolt suggests that we’ll see gangbuster improvements when we analyze results for post-2013 recipients. Would any of you bet your house on that proposition? And here’s the Big Cheese, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, wishing away the failures by insisting that his rotting tree will eventually bear delicious fruit, as it allegedly has at a Boston high school which underwent a program transformation that served as a model for the Obama education program:

“Here in Massachusetts, it actually took several years to see real improvement in some areas,” Duncan said [in 2015]. “Scores were flat or even down in some subjects and grades for a while. Many people questioned whether the state should hit the brakes on change. But you had the courage to stick with it, and the results are clear to all.”

But, to her credit, the reporter Ms. Brown appears to be skeptical. She actually allows Andy Smarick, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, to have the last word as she closes her piece with these three paragraphs:

Smarick said he had never seen such a huge investment produce zero results.

That could end up being a gift, he said, from Duncan to Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary and a prominent proponent of taxpayer-supported vouchers for private and religious schools.

Results from the School Improvement Grants have shored up previous research showing that pouring money into dysfunctional schools and systems does not work, Smarick said: “I can imagine Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump saying this is exactly why kids need school choice.”

I am one of those grumpy right-wingers who thinks the entire Department of Education ought to be closed and that money should be sent back to the states. After a quarter-century of the attitude that more government involvement in education would yield better results, I hope most rational Americans are waking up to the idea that it just doesn’t work that way.

– JVW

58 Responses to “Shocking Development: Throwing Money at Troubled Schools Doesn’t Seem to Accomplish Much”

  1. ugh this is more sleazy fake news from amazon turdlord jeffy bezos’s wapo

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  2. here is how you can tell

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  3. a school had four options:

    replacing the principal and at least half the teachers

    converting into a charter school

    closing altogether

    or undergoing a “transformation”

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  4. Read this carefully:

    Just a tiny fraction of schools chose the most dramatic measures, according to the new study. Three percent became charter schools, and 1 percent closed. Half the schools chose transformation, arguably the least intrusive option available to them.

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  5. HELLO

    46% of the schools chose door #1: replacing the principal and at least half the teachers

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  6. This is exactly a point that Donald Trump made in his Inaugural address.

    http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/national-international/Full-Text-President-Donald-Trumps-Inaugural-Address-411337325.html

    Americans want great schools for their children…But for too many of our citizens this is not a reality that exists….An education system flush with cash but which leaves young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge…

    – I guess if you want you could say this is a point that is so obvious that even Donald Trump understands this. Theer are some Democrats who pretend not to.

    It’s one of the issues he’s paid attention to. Whether he has any idea how to do anything about it, I don’t know, but that’s why he nominated Betsy DeVois to be Secretary of Education, after faoling to gte Eva Moscoowitz and Michelle Rhee.

    Sammy Finkelman (8a31dc)

  7. real reporting would contrast the results between door #1 and the “transformation” option

    but this is the washington post

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  8. happyfeet (28a91b) — 1/22/2017 @ 7:21 am

    46% of the schools chose door #1: replacing the principal and at least half the teachers

    Changing the principal didn’t help either? That would make sense, because it would still be run exactly the same way as the control schools.

    Sammy Finkelman (8a31dc)

  9. ugh no Mr. F that data is NOT reported

    results are not in any way tied back to option chosen

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  10. Daughter has already shown us video of Warren grilling DeVoss in confirmation hearing about not having personal experience with college loan programs…
    Propaganda runs fast.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  11. what this suggests Mr. F is that the propaganda slut at amazon turdlord jeffy bezos’s wapo is not writing a story about how spendings yielded poor results

    she’s trying to build a case for getting rid of a hated experiment in which 46% of the participating schools chose to replacing their principal and at least half their teachers (and another 3% became charter schools)

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  12. chose to *replace* their principal i mean

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  13. The problem lies with the software as robin has pointed out

    narciso (d1f714)

  14. A possible clue as to what happened when Door number 1 was chosen: (The school closed, which was defined as the principal and at least half (and probably more) of the teachers replaced?

    I don’t know what Cohort 1,2,3 and 4 are.

    http://all4ed.org/articles/sign-of-improvement-federal-report-on-school-improvement-grants-program-identifies-positive-results-for-nations-lowest-performing-schools-little-change-in-others/

    Overall, schools receiving funds from the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program improved graduation rates at two and three times the national average and increased the percentage of students who were proficient in reading and math at rates faster than other schools. At the same time, however, roughly one-third of SIG schools showed no change or regressed in math and reading proficiency rates.

    The problem with the last two options is that very few schools took it.

    Maybe you could look at what the top ten schools that improved did.

    Sammy Finkelman (8a31dc)

  15. lol

    The head of a major teachers union was more blunt. SIG was a “terrible investment,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, adding that she thinks federal dollars would be better spent on community schools and career and technical education programs.

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  16. barack was a bad investment in america

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  17. Let’s look at a buried lede here.

    The Fed Ed department, in January of 2017, is still hoping the results from May of 2013 will soon be available and show improvements.

    Setting aside questions of whether or not the reported results will be subject to Enron style corrections, can you imagine trying to invest in a commercial operation where the measures are nearly 4 years past?

    And it CAN’T move much faster. Taking my local Texas district as an example, the plans are made over the summer of 2011. (Supposedly based on state standard test results from the prior April, but not really.) Tax rates and hiring decisions made mid August 2011. Students start the new program while the teachers are still being trained on any new methods or devices. First round of results testing starts well before the end of the school year, in about February of 2012. Any student who fails (really, any competent student who has BEEN failed by the choices of methods and devices) gets two or three retake attempts, ending around May of 2012. The results go to the state capitol and various generations of reports comparing one district to another based on the tests (from Feb, April, and final tests) are released in early summer. District protest low results and negotiate amendments. The REAL final results on the decisions of summer 2011 are agreed upon about January of 2013.

    Then the state sends the data to the Feds, in D.C. Where the feds compare one state to another, preliminary reports are released in early 2014, and states protest, appeal, or negotiate their standings in the comparison rankings. Sometime in late 2015 the final reports are, er, finalized, and THEN come the analysts trying to drill into the officially approved data to see which district decisions on methods, devices, etc did, or did not, “work”. Some time in 2016 press releases from academia discuss the trends, and high level politicians express some concern. “Oh my gosh, districts in mid-2010’s using Apple tablets for students show no difference from districts in the 2000’s using Palm Pilots assigned to teachers — how can this be?” Policy makers beg for more data. And are told the bureaus are “hopeful” that the NEXT results will show things “working better.”

    Centralized decision making based on aggregations of data from more than one year previously are just necessarily — what’s the word? — awful.

    pouncer (806511)

  18. abe lincoln only had a year and a half of formal schooling
    admittedly, he spent his idle time running around with the dead end kids
    but eventually he turned out ok

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  19. Greetings:

    Can’t help but wonder if teacher union political contributions were down this year.

    11B40 (6abb5c)

  20. Bill Bennett called this correctly when he described the education apparat as “the blob.” Money goes in, but it never comes out.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  21. Greetings:

    I’m still serving my deportation to the San Francisco Bay area. This past week, the Catholic diocese of Oakland announced the closure of three elementary schools due to the lack of economic viability. Having being the beneficiary of 13 years of those folks educational efforts, I thought that I would take a looksee at the report.

    A bit surprisingly, (I was kind of expecting something along the lines of “Incredibly Wealthy Church Refuses to Redistribute Wealth to Impoverished Ghetto Progeny”) the report was straight forward and even-handed possibly because of the grandmotherly spokeswoman from the diocese. As is my long-term wont, what caught my attention was the young students in the background, how nice they all looked in their school uniforms and how well behaved they were in the presence of a potential media moment. As is usual with news reporting these day, it was sad to see the youngsters and their young parents come across another significant bump in their life’s road, hopefully not one too disruptive. Probably for the youngsters it will be a bit or more tough.

    With that lengthy preamble, I will drag out my point. For a hundred and fifty years or so, Catholics have been reaching into their own pockets to give their next generation as good an education and start in life as possible with significant interference from multiple level of government, politicized labor unions, and the progressified media. When I read about the thousands of dollars per pupil per year invested to keep Public Education, Inc. misfunctioning I can only wonder how both educrats an their media fellow travelers can ignore the gifts that Catholic educations has given to the country and its citizens. That an government effort of this financial magnitude can be undertaken with no involvement of Catholic education institutions as either a role model or bellweather strikes me as neither good science or good policy.

    11B40 (6abb5c)

  22. pouncer (806511) — 1/22/2017 @ 7:58 am

    Setting aside questions of whether or not the reported results will be subject to Enron style corrections, can you imagine trying to invest in a commercial operation where the measures are nearly 4 years past?

    That’s par for the course for scientific studies – and one of the things wrong with medical research.

    There may be numerous levels of review, and a publication backlog, and an embargo on results.. But this definitely needs an explanation. It doesn’t get it because they are used to it.

    What about the metric used? Wasn’t that high school graduation levels? (of course that would be aproblem, because that says nothing about the standards used to measure whether someone deserevs a high school diploma. Although maybe they have to couunt dropouts – or do they?

    Here’s anotehr issue: Student turnover. That probably makes a difference.

    Sammy Finkelman (8a31dc)

  23. Of course they didn’t track the spending! That’s the progressive way. One bureaucrat said trying to keep track of the wild Porkulus spending was like trying to get a drink of water from a fire hose.

    The City of LA though did refurbish the city yacht though with stimulus money intended for homeowner relief. So that’s something. Who wants their city to have a crummy looking yacht?

    So the whole point was to enrich their fellow travelers down the line. And it worked.

    Patricia (5fc097)

  24. I am not surprised that the Obama education programs didn’t work but I expect Trump will do no better. Both parties are basing their policy on a faulty premise, that many schools are failing when for the most part they are doing about as well as can be expected. You have your smart kids and your dumb kids and trying to teach a dumb kid to be smart is like trying to teach a short kid to be tall. But neither party wants to say this.

    James B. Shearer (ae470f)

  25. Well done post, Dana— and you are on fire, happyfeet.

    The “billions spent to aid ailing schools” by the Obama administration was never about fixing ailing schools. In the major cities education of children is a byproduct. It’s mostly about filling union coffers, bleeding taxpayers for outlandish teachers’ pensions, filling the teacher’s day with bureaucratic drivel laid down by overstaffed and incompetent administrators, and unions protecting inferior teachers while many smart and principled teachers retreat to suburbia or to what remains of the parochial school system.

    Federal Government money to fund education is a Democratic slush fund.

    elissa (194766)

  26. The “billions spent to aid ailing schools” by the Obama administration was never about fixing ailing schools. In the major cities education of children is a byproduct.

    Note the part of the WaPo story that mentions this money was part of the 2009 “stimulus” program. That should tell us all we need to know about the degree to which the Obama Administration cared about results.

    JVW (6e49ce)

  27. The 1865 8th grade graduation exam from small-town Missouri (you can google that information) strongly suggests James B Shearer to be incorrect. High school and college students — and instructors — today fail this exam, in all parts. Private schools outperform public schools. Christian schools outperform public schools, while spending far less money. Home schools outperform Christian schools, while spending far less money and having educators without college degrees. You can google that, too.

    My solution:
    Kill the Federal Department of Education
    Kill all national education programs
    Kill the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers
    Eliminate 80 percent of education positions above the “Teacher” level
    Eliminate tenure and pensions
    Cut teacher pay to 75 percent of the average income of the local school
    Give all parents vouchers, to be used at the school of their choice, public or private or homeschool

    If all of this is done, education across the country will see a vast and sustained improvement.

    John Hitchcock (7d184c)

  28. barack knows that dc public schools are skanky
    so he sends sasha to a private school that is swanky

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  29. I am not surprised that the Obama education programs didn’t work but I expect Trump will do no better. Both parties are basing their policy on a faulty premise, that many schools are failing when for the most part they are doing about as well as can be expected. You have your smart kids and your dumb kids and trying to teach a dumb kid to be smart is like trying to teach a short kid to be tall.

    Betsy DeVos wasn’t great at her confirmation hearing, but she did say the Trump administration wants to stop making the assumption that going to college and preparing for college are the goals of education for everyone

    MayBee (a7822d)

  30. As for inner city and minority schools:

    Governments have been promising to provide black folks good schools since 1865 and haven’t delivered yet. Vouchers would take the power out of bureaucrat’s hands and put them in black parent’s hands. I’m willing to bet they couldn’t do worse.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  31. 30 Governments have been promising to provide black folks good schools since 1865 and haven’t delivered yet. …

    The schools are about as good as can be expected. We don’t know how to make then dramatically better. There is no reason to believe that what improvements are possible would primarily benefit black children.

    James B. Shearer (ae470f)

  32. #31 Actually we do know how to make the public schools better. It’s just that the progressive education industrial complex won’t allow it.

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  33. JBS,

    You keep saying that. Doesn’t make it true.

    For example, you can teach teachable kids separately from the unteachable. The public schools will not do that. You can pay more for teachers (and eliminate most of the admin positions). Private schools have FAR less admin than public schools. Private schools can fire poor teachers. Private schools are far more responsive to parent needs.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  34. failmerican public schools are same as legalized child abuse

    they really do a number on those poor kiddos

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  35. Paying more for teachers will not provide for better teachers. Actually, paying LESS for teachers will provide better teachers, because the people who teach out of love for teaching will remain while the people who teach for the money and big vacations will leave the … industry. And when those who are in it for the money and benefits leave, more who love teaching will enter. The poison will have been removed.

    John Hitchcock (7d184c)

  36. The thing about “more money not helping” is that the money never gets to the schools. It goes to added administration expenditure as it’s the administrators who decide what to do with it.

    The national average school spending per (K-12) pupil is $12K. For a classroom of 25 kids, that’s $300,000 per classroom. Of that, perhaps $100K gets to the classroom in the form of teach salary, books, equipment, shared services (janitor, bus driver), etc. If you are REALLY lucky, $150K. The rest goes to the blob. It is unclear if ANY new funds get to the classroom.

    Private schools always have less overhead. About 3 out of 4 private schools employees teach. THis would suggest that they would be able to work the same as public schools for $150-200K per classroom, and for the $300K public schools get they’d spend a LOT more on the kids.

    If my teacher budget is $120K/yr instead of $60K, I will get better teachers. As an example.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  37. Paying more for teachers will not provide for better teachers. Actually, paying LESS for teachers will provide better teachers, because the people who teach out of love for teaching will remain while the people who teach for the money and big vacations will leave the … industry. And when those who are in it for the money and benefits leave, more who love teaching will enter. The poison will have been removed.

    Oh, bull. Even teachers who love teaching also love buying THEIR kids shoes. NO ONE EVER turned down more money for the same job.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  38. What do you mean throwing money at schools does not work? You assume that money is sent there to help educate the children, That is not why the money is sent. It is sent to buy votes and empower public sector unions. In that respect throwing money at education works. I give you the debacle in making that is California.

    William B Wittmeyer (4454cf)

  39. Almost all of the money from Jerry brown’s “temporary” tax on the wealthy went to shore up the teachers’ union retirement fund. And the people voted to continue it! Oh well, it’s just those awful rich people, so who cares?

    http://www.sfgate.com/business/networth/article/State-leaders-closely-watch-migrating-millionaires-5135090.php

    Patricia (5fc097)

  40. I’ve probably said it before, but this is what I’ve learned in my years in academia:

    1) No one knows a method of teaching that is guaranteed to work for most people.
    2) People did not get dumber since the 1950s, and they did not have a method of teaching that worked for most people (see point 1). So the difference in the outcomes is due to something else.
    3) There are only two ways known to “improve” educational outcomes, since point 1) applies:

    a) Kick out low performing students, or let them leave. This was true in the 1950s, there was a much higher percentage leaving K-12 without graduating, most of them simply because they needed to work. The problem with doing this now is that there are civil rights implications due to disparate impact and the general feeling in society is that it is not acceptable for people to leave high school before graduating.

    b) Lower standards to the point that everyone can pass them. This is the approach we have drifted into.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  41. Shiver me timbers!!!

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  42. @Kevin M. If my teacher budget is $120K/yr instead of $60K,

    I don’t know how much attention you’ve been paying to what teacher salaries actually are, but let’s take them at face value.

    $60K is a 71st percentile salary.

    $120K is a 92nd percentile salary.

    Just think about that for a minute.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  43. Anyway, median individual income is about $38K and median teacher salary is about $48K.

    Most teachers already make more than most people.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  44. In my years teaching at the university level I did not make more than most high-school teachers. Which is one reason I no longer do that. But I had some things high-school teachers did not have:

    1) No discipline problems. If ever a student had behaved badly enough that I needed to tell them to leave–which never happened–and that student didn’t leave, I could call security and have them ejected (which never happened). If a student caused problems for me outside of class–never happened to me but I knew a couple of female professors who got stalked–the Dean of Students would tell that student never to come back and the police would take them away if they did.

    2) Autonomy. Within generous limits, the pacing, emphasis, study materials and the grading standards of my class was entirely up to me. Had I failed more than half the students I likely would have been asked to change things, but in most cases students unhappy with their grades were told they had to work it out with me or take the course from someone else.

    And I would not have traded either of those things, which do not exist at public schools, for another $20 K or $30 K.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  45. 36

    If my teacher budget is $120K/yr instead of $60K, I will get better teachers. As an example.

    Differences between teachers make much less (as in an order of magnitude) difference in student outcomes than differences between students. This makes it difficult to reliably evaluate teachers.
    If you can’t tell good teachers from bad ones paying more to get better teachers doesn’t work. And it doesn’t make much difference anyway most teachers are about the same.

    James B. Shearer (ae470f)

  46. 30 Governments have been promising to provide black folks good schools since 1865 and haven’t delivered yet. …

    The schools are about as good as can be expected. We don’t know how to make then dramatically better. There is no reason to believe that what improvements are possible would primarily benefit black children.

    James B. Shearer (ae470f) — 1/22/2017 @ 10:31 am

    I believe you’re wrong. In the 1980s Bill Bennett talked about a Catholic school in New York City that only took in failing children from the public school system. These were students that the public school system said could not be taught under any circumstances. While the students did no better than the public school students, remember these students could not be taught.

    In 2000 I put my two sons into a Lutheran private school. I chose the school because I could not afford the more expensive Catholic or secular private schools, but they did have a good reputation. At the time LA unified was spending over $11,000 per student. The Lutheran school charged me $5,200 for both my sons. Both my sons had been in the magnet program at the public schools. My youngest son graduated second grade in a class for gifted students at the top of his class. When I had him tested he scored second grade 5th month. I expected that he would have scored at least in the middle of third grade because he was in a gifted program at his public school. After third grade at first Lutheran he was doing seventh grade math and higher than his grade level in every subject but reading comprehension where he was at his grade level. This was in a class of 33 students which LA unified says is too large to properly teach children.

    The school was also racially diverse and even had a down syndrome child. There were many Hispanic parents who did not speak English who had put their children in the school because the Los Angeles public schools were failing them. So for around a quarter of the price of what the public school was putting out for each student my children received a much better education.

    Tanny O'Haley (c674c7)

  47. 27. John Hitchcock (7d184c) — 1/22/2017 @ 9:55 am

    The 1865 8th grade graduation exam from small-town Missouri (you can google that information)

    Google seems to think hat is 1895, and in fact 1895 makes a lot more sense than 1865. And it wasn’t Missouri, but Kansas. (Salina, Pop. 1960: 43,202)

    It was published in the New Republic in 2010.

    https://newrepublic.com/article/79470/1895-8th-grade-final-exam-i-couldnt-pass-it-could-you

    James B Shearer is, of course incorrect. You can only say that if you have no knowledge of any other kind of school than the usual. Of course, preparation makes a difference. Students may oot have the background knowledge needed to easily absorb things.

    Of course, you’d only know those grammar rules and names if you’d been taught them. I am not even sure waht a “case” is. I see it has to do with conjugation. It’s more important in langages oher than English.

    “Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.”

    Are they still the fundamental rules? This is testing terminology. now, provided nobody crams for it, it’s a good proxy for detiled knowledge, but it’s not the thing you really want to test. It’s probably the communtative and associative rule anyway.

    “A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?”

    For this you have to know what a bushel is.

    ” Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.”

    By whom?

    Probably pre-Columbian, (but that may be omitted) Colonial, Revolutionary, Federalist, ante-bellum, Civil War, Reconstruction, and we’ve reached 1877. Anything after that is Current Events.

    ” Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.”

    Battles were not taught by my Social Studies teacher in the 7th or 8th grade. He skipped over that and wanted only causes and results.

    7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?

    This is so familiar. The curriculum has stayed the same. Samuel F. B Morse, invented of the telegram. The first telegram sent was one refusing the Democratic nomination for Vice President of the United states. (After what hath God Wrought, Morse continued sending newspaper articles betwene Baltimore and Washington. Robert J. Walker, had launched a coup at the Dem convention and institiuted the 2/3 rule and deprived Martin Van Buren of the nomination which he;d won in the caucuses. It is from that date – 1844 – that conventions became important. The Republican Party also copied it although it had majority rule. Conventions were the deciding point till about 1952, although they weren’t recognized as pro-forma till about 1972.

    Eli Whitney with the cotton gin, 1793, Fulton with the steam boat, Bell – Alexander Graham Bell with the telephone 1876. Lincoln? Penn? Howe? Maybe not all inventors. IS Howe General Howe or an inventor?

    8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865

    This is familiar. It could be someone once picked them out. 1607 is Jamestown, Virginia. 1620 is the Pilgrims in Massachusetts, although the Puritans became more important soon.

    1800? The city of Wwashington, maybe, r the election that involved aaron Burr.

    1849 – California Gold Rush

    1865 – end of the Civil War, or, as this exam from eavily Republican Kansas calls it: The Rebellion. That name was going out of style by 1895.

    Sammy Finkelman (8cff4d)

  48. #47 Sammy, thanks for posting that. It’s interesting stuff.

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  49. 47
    James B Shearer is, of course incorrect. You can only say that if you have no knowledge of any other kind of school than the usual. …

    Let me be more precise. Most public schools in the US are of about the same quality, differences in student achievement are primarily due to characteristics of the individual students (smart students do better than dumb students etc.). Peer effects (whether your fellow students are smart and well behaved or dumb and ill-behaved) matter but are less important. And it is obviously impossible for everyone to go to schools where all your fellow students are smart and well behaved. Things like teacher quality or the physical facilities (within the range commonly found in the US) make very little difference. As a practical matter significantly improving education in the US means significantly improving public schools and we don’t know how to do that.

    We might get similar results for a lot less money which is a significant improvement in a way but not what most people are talking about.

    James B. Shearer (ae470f)

  50. More money for schools was always about enriching the eductation establishment, the education industrial complex, a subset of the government industrial complex,

    Joe (debac0)

  51. Living in the liberal utopia of Illinois, I can tell you that throwing money at the schools (even money that we don’t have) has solved exactly no problems. Look at the Chicago Public School System–they are bankrupt, and yet the last time they negotiated a contract with the public school union, Rahm threw money at them that Chicago and Illinois don’t have, in an attempt to avoid the strikes that they always promise if they don’t get their way. Meanwhile, a lot of our public schools are a disgrace. There is little discipline; fundamentals are not taught, or not taught very well (although in the schools’ defense, they are mandated to do a lot of things that interfere with teaching fundamentals).

    You have only to go to a grocery store or big box store and watch the cashiers try to figure out if 2 items are priced at 99 cents, what does one item cost, to realize that we have an entire generation of people who cannot do simple math let alone anything complex.

    Rochf (877dba)

  52. @Tanny O’ Haley:These were students that the public school system said could not be taught under any circumstances. While the students did no better than the public school students, remember these students could not be taught.

    First, the schools said that, but it wasn’t true. It’s great that a small group of highly dedicated people can achieve wonderful results with people for whom the standard ways didn’t work well.

    So, you are reinforcing my 1) above:

    1) No one knows a method of teaching that is guaranteed to work for most people.

    What worked for your kids, what worked for the kids Bennett was talking about, is not going to work for tens of millions of kids. Pretty much anything can be achieved by good teachers who believe strongly in what they are doing, but there are not enough teachers like that to go around to educate every child in America.

    Secondly, the schools in your example were selective. They chose the students they wanted to work with. They did not have the obligation a public school system has, to educate all kids regardless of whether those kids want to be there or should be there, and which cannot have the flexibility to individually tailor education to students, and which are not allowed even to discipline students who are disruptive.

    Just about anything can be achieved by hard-working, talented teachers willing to do what is best for each student, but it doesn’t scale up to the whole country.

    Gabriel Hanna (64d4e1)

  53. @Sammy Finkelman:Students may oot have the background knowledge needed to easily absorb things.

    You support Shearer’s point. In your case, as you say, you never got that background information, but in 1895, students did get it–or they weren’t allowed to graduate. And nowadays they are allowed to graduate without being exposed to it, much less required to know any of it. In 1895 an 8th grade diploma meant something. By 1995 it no longer did.

    I’ve had to teach people who graduated high school in the last ten years and it is appalling what they can not know and still get into a college. I had students unable to read their textbooks, because they could not understand any sentence more complex than subject-verb-object and I wrote exams and quizzes in baby-talk accordingly.

    (But really, your social studies teacher decided to skip all the Civil War battles? To the point that you wouldn’t have been able to name three? Aren’t battles kind of important to any meaningful understanding of a war? How can you meaningfully approach causes and results without facts? It’s just storytelling unsupported by evidence without facts.)

    Gabriel Hanna (64d4e1)

  54. Gabriel Hanna (64d4e1) — 1/23/2017 @ 10:13 am

    (But really, your social studies teacher decided to skip all the Civil War battles?

    Only from outside reading. Maybe Bull Run and Gettysberg and Vicksburg.

    He didn’t believe that the details of a war had any long run importance. (They are interesting for what-ifs, of coursem and military history, and for what people at the time may have anticipated) There was also the question of limited time.

    I know World War II pretty well, but I am retty hazy on World War I, although I know the stages, and I couldn’t give you much of a chronicle of the U.S. Civil war (a term borrowed from classic history pr fro the English Civil war of the 1640s) beyond the fact that it lasted four years without much changing till the last year.

    I’m really ignorant about the Napoleonic Wars. I don’t even now the treaties and alliances and dates of war and dates of peace. I mostly know 1815 and the invasion of Russia in 1812 and taht ot stated inn 1793 and napoleon was a general in Egypt in 1798 and took over France at the beginnig of 1800 except they didn’t call it 1800 in France at that time. It took place on the 18th of Brumaire. It was just about the time George Washington died.

    But Austerlitz? What was that all about?

    I couldn’t give you much of an account of the Revolutionary War.

    What I do know pretty well is the Korean War. The 28th parrallel changed hands 3 times. First he North Korean invasion got south Korea down to just the Pusan area, and then up to 2.3 of the peninsula was recvered and then China intervened. It stablized approximately where the 38h paralle was, and the war contonued on for two more years. Technically, it’s still going on.

    Bear in mind, that in 1895, the Civil War was the last big war the United States was involved in, and the battles important to veterans.

    To the point that you wouldn’t have been able to name three? Aren’t battles kind of important to any meaningful understanding of a war? How can you meaningfully approach causes and results without facts? It’s just storytelling unsupported by evidence without facts.)

    Sammy Finkelman (8cff4d)

  55. James B. Shearer (ae470f) — 1/22/2017 @ 9:08 pm

    Most public schools in the US are of about the same quality, differences in student achievement are primarily due to characteristics of the individual students (smart students do better than dumb students etc.).

    It’s also the fact that the quality of the teachers are roughly proportional to the students. I highly suspect that teacher quality bears a strong relationship to student poverty. (not actual poverty itself – but poverty is usually correlated with a bunch of other stuff except among immigrants) Poor students get worse teachers.

    Also the system does not teach people. A teacher has to break away from what he or she is taught to properly teach reading.

    I also think just having one or two or three good teachers makes a great deal of difference, but in some schools the most probable number of such teachers a student will encounter in 8 years is zero.

    As a practical matter significantly improving education in the US means significantly improving public schools and we don’t know how to do that.

    Which is why we need to make it easy to go to non-public schools.

    We might get similar results for a lot less money which is a significant improvement in a way but not what most people are talking about.

    That’s true. If adding money doesn’t help, subtracting money won’t hurt. Subtracting a lot of money actually might help because it would shake things up too much for things to continue the way they are. Yes, people want beter results and they can get them.

    Poor children 70 to 100 years ago got a better education. The damage comes from greater credentialing of teachers, and from teacher’s unions.

    Sammy Finkelman (8cff4d)

  56. Gabriel Hanna (64d4e1) — 1/23/2017 @ 10:05 am

    Pretty much anything can be achieved by good teachers who believe strongly in what they are doing, but there are not enough teachers like that to go around to educate every child in America.

    There would be if we eliminated much of teacher certification. The training harms the natural ability to teach and it takes new teachers four or five years to recover.

    Just about anything can be achieved by hard-working, talented teachers willing to do what is best for each student, but it doesn’t scale up to the whole country. </blockquote Wth parental choice, the closing of schools that failed to attract students, and the voucher system it would scale up.

    Sammy Finkelman (8cff4d)

  57. The American educational system was switched onto the wrong track 150 years ago with Dewey. Many, like JBS, assume that most of their fellow citizens are too stupid to understand and appreciate the wonderful things that populate their imaginations. Our public schools, with their unionized workforce, are the sharp end of the spear that implements this benighted philosophy.

    Like Hanney and 11B40, we sent our kids to private schools … very small, inexpensive private schools for the K-6 period, and they did very well. Their grade level testing always placed them and all of their classmates, a diverse group, three to four years ahead of their peers consigned to the public school. They finished in the Catholic schools, and again did well. The Catholic schools were an oasis of calm and discipline compared to the public schools, which I know about because I coached volleyball in public schools intermittently from 1980 to 2009.

    If you want to see why the public schools do so poorly, spend some time at the schools and take critical look at what passes for their text books. Chaos is the common denominator. Geometry is taught using a 600 page, multi-colored, 6.5 pound faux tome that spends chapters reviewing arithmetic and simple algebra, but never quite gets around to challenging the students to prove simple theorems. Instead they are told to memorize formulas and create portfolios featuring pictures of geometric shapes. The whole program is designed for student failure. Which of course is the whole point, since it reinforces just how smart our educators are compared to the dummies they try to educate.

    Mark Twain had an appreciation for the wisdom and humor of the common man. As you might expect, he is no longer welcome in the public schools.

    BobStewartatHome (d1b2b6)

  58. 57… Many, like JBS, assume that most of their fellow citizens are too stupid to understand and appreciate the wonderful things that populate their imaginations. …

    I don’t know about most, but many people are too stupid to for example learn high school algebra with a reasonable amount of effort and you are doing them no favors by pretending otherwise. By for instance making passing algebra a requirement to graduate high school.

    James B. Shearer (ae470f)


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