AEIdeas

The public policy blog of the American Enterprise Institute

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Discussion: (7 comments)

  1. SeattleSam

    Funny, there is no “blame game” that goes on in other markets. Markets where the people you serve are allowed to determine whether they are getting what they want from you — and if not, to go to another service provider. If ATT’s customers are going away, they don’t have to have decades of debate as to whether they should be doing something differently. And customers do not have to spend their time browbeating management into giving them what they want.

    How long do you think it would take teachers or administration in failing schools to figure out what was wrong if their jobs started disappearing along with the students?

  2. On the unions thing, as was pointed out discussions last summer, teachers are in the unique position that “labor” and “management” are the SAME people. That is, most school boards are populated with current or retired teachers. The charade of “negotiations” is merely one bunch of teachers asking another bunch of teachers how much they’d like to get paid and what they’d like to do at their jobs.

    Here in the 21st Century, teachers still insist that they are in a Craft business where neither their products nor their work methods can be objectively measured or evaluated. This includes general failure to produce acceptable products (i.e., educated students) and, in many case, failure to act like adults while at work.

    Society and business constantly need fresh new citizens to help build and operate the nation and its various communities. We have been talked into letting Professional Educators have sole control of turning innocent, ignorant child citizens into healthy, happy, educated citizens. The Professional Educators have failed miserably under their monopoly, and their ONLY response is to claim that they need (i.e., want) ever increasing piles of tax money to churn out substandard products.

    If the Professional Educators (which includes an ever increasing number of “administrators” per student) don’t come up with an adult, businesslike answer to the communal problem, communities should step in and simply clean house and start over.

  3. The “problem” started when they took away the “shop” classes and all students were “expected” to go to college, thus having non-teachers want to see TEST SCORES rise to college expectations. The lack of courses that the non-college kids wanted made them disinterested in school other than a place where they were REQUIRED to “hang out”. THAT is why education has gone down hill but folks such as Arne Duncan or Micchelle Rhee are clueless to such things because they have no EXPERIENCE in real teaching to understand it!

    1. I think this is the crux of the problem… the blame is a collective “OURS” because we haven’t spent much time debating what we REALLY want our high school students to learn in school.

      K-8 does a good job getting kids inculcated in the basics, but beyond that, the kids start to wonder, “Why am I learning this?” This is the same question my peers and I were asking 30 years ago. Back then, the answer “Because it’s good for you” was good enough for me. The problem is we’re STILL relying on this answer today, and our kids are smart enough to ask the follow-on question, “WHY is it good for me?” They’re also smart enough to realize that we have no good answer for this.

      Why do we care whether our kids do well on standardized tests? Is it because standardized test taking mimics productive adult activity? Of course not… when was the last time you got asked a question at work like the ones you got asked on the SAT? Never? Me neither… so why do we put so much stock in standardized tests? Why do we waste our children’s time teaching them irrelevant data that can so easily be found on the internet anyway? Is this really the best we can do for our children?

      Let’s start over… what do we want from our children when they get out of high school? Personally, I’d like to see self-assured, hard-working, personable kids that know how to take some chances in life and work through problems instead of just throwing their hands up in the air. Anybody that has this as a foundation can easily acquire the skills they need to be productive in most occupations we have today, and be happier about it to boot.

      There are no easy scapegoats in this complex issue.

      1. SeattleSam

        How much time do you spend debating what you really want from any other provider of services to you? How much collective debate does it take to decide which airline to fly or which cellphone to buy or which gym to belong to? You simply select the one that fits your needs. It’s only because you have no choice in which school to use that we have to engage in collective debate. If we had to collectively decide which one supermarket chain to use and exactly what was going to be on the shelves of each of those supermarkets you wouldn’t get any more agreement than you do with “what we REALLY want our high school students to learn in school”.

  4. If anyone has read Mr. Bloom’s views on education, he is spot on. The classical liberal education in K-12 and at the university is being ruined by politically leftward socialist doctrine – it is horrible.
    The biggest wall of seperation for young people is the common cultural things we all were taught. Tom Sawyer, Jack in the bean stock, Romeo & Juliet, I before E, except after C etc… Social and cultural classics that bind us together.
    Not to mention if you pick up a textbook from 1950 for HS history or math, it will blow you away what was required knowledge. The lowering of the standards crowd isn’t winning…they have wiped the floor with our kids minds.
    It is the unions negotiating with the politicians they contribute money to, it ain’t brain surgery. William buckley or Reagan never pushed for sex ed, or teacher developement days.

  5. Michael Hart

    Unfortunately “ending the blame game” ends up meaning that problems can be fixed with good intentions, without change that affects people’s interests. Saying that there’s a lot more that clever leaders can do without reducing teachers’ job security to that of non-unionized professionals, doesn’t mean it isn’t a heck of good idea to do the latter. Sure, leaders including elected representatives and those who elect them agree to these contracts. So, you would agree that it’s not the blame game to advocate that these people ought not to permit traditional tenure. Correct? Getting rid of tenure and other contract restrictions so that leaders don’t have to waste their cleverness on navigating them is not blaming the teachers. The vast majority will survive being treated like the professionals at the non-profit hospital at which I work.

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