PoliticsSocialized Education - Is there abetter way?

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To: TimF who wrote (853)2/14/2012 1:22:18 PM
From: Peter Dierks
   of 1352
The idea that parents don't know what is best for their children is ridiculous. The education establishment don't view either students or their parents as their primary customers. Anyone who does not view them in that order is not qualified to teach or speak about teaching.

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To: TimF who wrote (854)2/15/2012 2:33:12 PM
From: Peter Dierks
1 Recommendation   of 1352
'Academically Adrift': The News Gets Worse and Worse
The Bankruptcy of Higher Education

By Kevin Carey

In the last few months of 2010, rumors began circulating among higher-education policy geeks that the University of Chicago Press was about to publish a new book written by a pair of very smart sociologists who were trying to answer a question to which most people thought they already knew the answer: How much do students learn while they're in college? Their findings, one heard, were ... interesting.

The book, Academically Adrift, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, fulfilled that promise—and then some. It was no surprise that The Chronicle gave prominent coverage to the conclusion that "American higher education is characterized by limited or no learning for a large proportion of students," but few people anticipated that the book would become the rare piece of serious academic scholarship that jumps the fence and roams free into the larger culture.

Vanity Fair used space normally allotted to Kennedy hagiography to call it a "crushing exposé of the heretofore secret society known as 'college.'" The gossip mavens at Gawker ran the book through their patented Internet cynicism machine and wrote that "To get a college degree, you must go into a soul-crushing amount of debt. And what do you get for all that money? Not learning."

The New Yorker featured Academically Adrift in a typically brilliant essay by Louis Menand. In one of her nationally syndicated columns, Kathleen Parker called the book a "dense tome" while opining that the failure of higher education constituted a "dot-connecting exercise for Uncle Shoulda, who someday will say—in Chinese—'How could we have let this happen?'" Her response proved that Kathleen Parker has a gift for phrasing and did not actually read the book, whose main text runs to only 144 concise and well-argued pages.

But the definitive evidence of Academically Adrift's ascension to the very small group of social-science studies whose findings shape conventional wisdom came when President King, the world-weary cynic and longtime leader of Walden College, sipped a martini and reacted to the book's documentation of declining student work by explaining, "That's why they come! As long as we give them good grades and a degree, their parents are happy too! Who cares if they can't reason?"

When your research ends up in "Doonesbury," that's saying something.

In part, it says that the public harbored a latent distrust of higher education that was activated by empirical evidence that supported their suspicions. After all, a lot of people have been to college and have experienced the academic indifference and lack of rigor that Arum and Roksa documented firsthand.

It also shows what happens when there's a mismatch between the importance and complexity of a question and the amount of research designed to answer it. In many ways, the most shocking thing about Academically Adrift was not what it revealed about what college students learn. It was that nobody had ever attempted to measure learning in that way before.

As responsible scholars, the authors were careful to interpret their findings in ways that emphasized the limitations of their instruments and sample population. But they couldn't control what happened after their research entered the zeitgeist. And the lack of other credible studies providing alternate perspectives on college learning meant that, in the national higher-education conversation, Academically Adrift became the only game in town.

Last month the authors released new results that should only add to our national worries about higher education. While press coverage of Academically Adrift focused mostly on learning among typical students, the data actually show two distinct populations of undergraduates. Some students, disproportionately from privileged backgrounds, matriculate well prepared for college. They are given challenging work to do and respond by learning a substantial amount in four years.

Other students graduate from mediocre or bad high schools and enroll in less-selective colleges that don't challenge them academically. They learn little. Some graduate anyway, if they're able to manage the bureaucratic necessities of earning a degree.

The central problem in American higher education today is that most of the people running things in politics, business, and academe come from the first group, but most of the actual students enrolled in college are in the second group. The former cannot see the latter, because they are blinded by their own experience. And so they think the problems of the many don't exist.

Now Arum and his colleagues have revealed what happened to those two groups after they left college and entered the unforgiving post-recession economy. Despite a barren job market, only 3.1 percent of students who scored in the top 20 percent of the Collegiate Learning Assessment, which measures critical-thinking skills, were unemployed. Not infrequently, their colleges helped them land the jobs they had. Many struck out on their own and were engaged in civic affairs. Those who got married or cohabitated often did so with someone they met in college. For students like these, the college-driven job and mating markets are functioning as advertised.

Graduates who scored poorly on the CLA, by contrast, are leading very different lives. It's true that business majors, who were singled out for low CLA scores in Academically Adrift, did better than most in finding jobs. But over all, students with poor CLA results are more likely to be living at home with their parents, burdened by credit-card debt, unmarried, and unemployed.

Those are inconvenient findings for a higher-education industry that is struggling to make the case for public support in the worst budget environment in memory. College leaders have long excused decades of relentlessly rising prices, exploding student-loan debt, and alarmingly high dropout rates with the assumption that students are learning. The prices are reasonable and the loans repayable, they say, because of the skills and knowledge that students acquire in exchange. And while dropouts are regrettable, we are told, that's an unavoidable—nay, admirable—consequence of maintaining high academic standards.

Academically Adrift exposed the bankruptcy of those assertions. But it didn't reveal anything that college leaders didn't know, in quiet rooms behind closed doors, all along. Academe was so slow to produce this research because it told the world things that those in academe would rather the world didn't know.

That time is over. For those who are dissatisfied with the methods or findings of Academically Adrift, who chafe at the way it has been absorbed by the politicians and commentariat, there is only one recourse: Get started on research of your own. Higher education needs a much broader examination of how and whether it succeeds in educating students. Some of that research will doubtless become fodder for reckless criticism. But there's no turning back now.

Click here for guidelines on submitting essays for the Commentary, Point of View, and Review sections of The Chronicle.

Kevin Carey is policy director at Education Sector, an independent think tank in Washington.

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From: greatplains_guy2/18/2012 3:01:45 AM
1 Recommendation   of 1352
Obama's War on School Vouchers
The president downplays school choice in his new $3.8 trillion budget.
FEBRUARY 14, 2012


In his State of the Union address last month, Obama spoke about the importance of kids staying in school and even urged states to raise the dropout age to 18. So it's passing strange that his new $3.8 trillion budget provides no new money for a school voucher program in Washington, D.C., that is producing significantly higher graduation rates than the D.C. public school average.

The Opportunity Scholarship Program offers vouchers to low-income students to attend private schools. A 2010 study published by Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas found that the scholarship recipients had graduation rates of 91%. The graduation rate for D.C. public schools was 56%, and it was 70% for students who entered the lottery for a voucher but didn't win.

Because the president's teachers union allies are opposed to school choice for poor people, Mr. Obama ignores or downplays these findings. He repeatedly has tried to shutter the program, even though it is clearly advancing his stated goal of increasing graduation rates and closing the black-white achievement gap.

The good news is that House Speaker John Boehner, who went to bat for the voucher program last year when the Obama administration attempted to phase it out, said yesterday through a spokesman that the funding cuts won't stand. The bad news is that we have a president who is more interested in doing right by teachers unions than doing right by ghetto kids confined to failing schools.

To read more stories like this one, please subscribe to Political Diary.

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From: greatplains_guy2/21/2012 10:19:35 PM
   of 1352
What are my Kids Learning? Poll Shows Professors Fail Presidential History
Feb 21, 2012

Editor's Note: This column was written by Kate Obenshain, Vice President of Young America’s Foundation.

Presidents Day celebrates America’s rich presidential history, yet the people we entrust to teach and write our history books—university professors—have a skewed view of our nation’s past leaders.

On Ronald Reagan’s 101st birthday, Young America’s Foundation released a scientific poll conducted by The Polling Company Inc. of 284 professors on their views on our past presidents—particularly on President Reagan. Those views on Reagan were not surprising. Professors have less of an appreciation for arguably the greatest modern President than do a majority of Americans. What was perhaps more alarming, however, was their disdain of our great founding presidents.

When asked to list their picks for the three greatest presidents of all-time, professors mentioned Franklin Roosevelt significantly more times than George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison—and four times as often as President Reagan.

Little Love for Founding Fathers

Professors expressed clear distain for America’s Founding Fathers and founding documents. A meager 1% of professors thought the Father of the Constitution, James Madison, ranked in the top three presidents (compared to 54% for FDR), and only 30% picked Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence.

While there are 43 presidents to choose from, the fact that Bill Clinton got six times as many mentions as James Madison is disturbing. In the poll, 87% of professors said it was “important to pass on analysis and understanding of previous United States Presidents.” But what kind of analysis are they passing on?

In the poll, three times as many professors identified themselves as liberal than as conservative. For a long time, we’ve known about the widespread liberalism in academia, but many Americans don’t realize the impact this ideological bias has on their children’s education.

30% of professors admitted in the Foundation’s poll that their ideology plays a role in their curriculum. That number is alarming enough, but we know from closely studying the intolerant intellectual atmosphere on college campuses, it is far worse than those numbers admit.

As our poll numbers reflect, the ideological sentiments being passed on to students by many professors on the Left dismiss our Founders as largely irrelevant. Is this really what we want our kids to believe?

I don’t. I want my children to see the founders as the visionaries they were. They set the stage for the greatest growth in personal freedom the world has ever seen. But that’s not the story most kids are learning in history class.

Anti-Conservative History

In fact, students are hearing little if anything positive about conservative leaders from professors. In 2011, Gallup released a poll indicating that a plurality of Americans think President Reagan is the greatest president in US history. In our poll, not one professor said Reagan was the greatest president, and 60% said he wasn’t in their top ten. When asked to grade President Reagan, they gave him a C+.

Current popular American opinion of President Reagan arguably isn’t the only way to evaluate his place in history. However, professors are not only out of touch with the American public, they’re out of touch with historical facts.

The facts are that President Reagan ended the cold war and generated the greatest period of peacetime economic growth in US History. Under President Reagan, the misery index (inflation plus unemployment) fell nearly 10 points and youth unemployment dropped more than 5%. Revenues doubled, and the country pulled out of two economic recessions. Professors can’t say the same about FDR or any other president.

The Importance of Factual and Balanced Presidential History

America’s youth look up to the presidency, and many students’ policy beliefs will result from their understanding of a particular president. Our higher education is trying to pull America to the left, and we cannot let their slanted views of historical presidents preside as fact in the classroom.

Our government has strayed from America’s founding values of limited government and personal responsibility. Americans are suffering the economic consequences. Our children must learn about the successes of these fundamental principles so they shape their future around what worked.

Professors gave President Reagan a C+, but Americans should give professors an F. It’s great that professors think presidential history is “important” to share in the classroom, but America, for the sake of our children, let’s make sure these professors get the history right.

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To: greatplains_guy who wrote (858)2/21/2012 10:21:41 PM
From: greatplains_guy
   of 1352
Academic Hypocrisy
Thomas Sowell
Feb 21, 2012

It is fascinating to see people accusing others of things that they themselves are doing, especially when their own sins are worse.

Academics love to say that businesses are not paying enough to people who work for them. But where in business are there people who are paid absolutely nothing for strenuous work that involves risks to their health?

In academia, that situation is common. It is called college football. How often have you watched a big-time college football game without seeing someone limping off the field or being carried off the field?

College athletes are not to be paid because this is an "amateur" sport. But football coaches are not only paid, they are often paid higher salaries than the presidents of their own universities. Some make over a million dollars a year.

Academics also like to accuse businesses of consumer fraud. There is indeed fraud in business, as in every other aspect of human life -- including academia.

When my academic career began, half a century ago, I read up on the academic market and discovered that there was a chronic over-supply of people trained to be historians. There were not nearly enough academic posts available for people who had spent years acquiring Ph.D.s in history, and the few openings that there were for new Ph.D.s paid the kind of salaries you could get for doing work requiring a lot less education.

My own pay as a beginning instructor in economics was not high but it was certainly higher than that for beginning historians.

Now, 50 years later, there is a long feature article in the February 17th issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education on the chronic over-supply of historians. Worse yet, leading university history departments are resisting demands that they keep track of what happens to their students after they get their Ph.D.s -- and inform prospective Ph.D.s of what the market is like.

If any business operated this way, selling customers something that was very costly in time and money, and which the sellers knew in advance was almost certain to disappoint their expectations, academics would be bursting with indignation -- and demanding full disclosure to the customers, if not criminal prosecutions.

But The Chronicle of Higher Education reports "faculty resistance" to collecting and publishing information on what happens to a university's history Ph.D.s after they leave the ivy-covered walls with high hopes and low prospects.

At a number of big-name universities -- Northwestern, Brown and the University of North Carolina's flagship campus at Chapel Hill -- at least one-fourth of their 2010 history Ph.D.s are either unemployed or their fate is unknown.

At Brown University, for example, 38 percent of their 2010 Ph.D.s are in that category, compared to only 25 percent who have tenure-track appointments.

For people not familiar with academia, a tenure-track appointment does not mean that the appointee has tenure, but only that the job is one where a tenure decision will have to be made at some point under the "up or out system." At leading universities, far more are put out than move up.

There are also faculty appointments that are strictly for the time being -- lecturers, adjunct professors or visiting professors. Half the 2010 Ph.D.s from Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania have these kinds of appointments, which essentially lead nowhere. They are sometimes called "gypsy faculty."

Finally, there are Ph.D.s who are on postdoctoral fellowships, often at the expense of the taxpayers. They are paid to continue on campus, essentially as students, after getting their doctorates. More than one-fourth of the 2010 Ph.D.s from Rutgers, Johns Hopkins and Harvard are in this category.

At least these universities release such statistics. A history professor at Rutgers University who has studied such things says: "If you look at some of the numbers published on department Web sites, they range from dishonest to incompetent."

But apparently many academics are too busy pursuing moral crusades in society at large to look into such things on their own ivy-covered campuses.

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From: TimF2/22/2012 12:04:10 AM
2 Recommendations   of 1352
Putting Teachers' Unions Ahead of Kids Posted
by John Stossel | February 15, 2012

Obama's new budget is 1,470 pages long. On page 1,318, Obama announces he will end funding for the DC "Opportunity Scholarship" program, which gives poor kids the option of going to a private school instead of being stuck in the government monopoly. [HT: Fox News' Ed Henry]

It's a popular program - 500 more kids applied last year than there was room for - and for good reason: A "gold-standard" Department of Education study found that kids who were randomly selected to get the scholarship ended up 3 months ahead of their peers in reading, were happier with their school, and had higher graduation rates. To get those results, the private schools spent less than half what government-run schools spent per student.

It should be no surprise that, when parents can choose, schools are forced to get better.

But Obama's new budget kills the school choice program, while it gives an extra $36 million to DC's government-run schools. This will supposedly save $20 million. The administration says it did this:

" continued support of the District's efforts to transform its public education system into... a model for urban districts across the nation."

A model for urban districts across the nation? Give me a break. DC scores behind every single state in reading and math. And behind every city but Detroit in math.

More money won't solve that. School choice would.

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To: TimF who wrote (860)2/22/2012 9:16:22 AM
From: Peter Dierks
   of 1352
NEA Sends Older Employees Heading for the Exit
posted at 5:17 pm on February 21, 2012
by Mike Antonucci

Two weeks ago, the Education Intelligence Agency reported on the financial difficulties faced by the National Education Association and its state affiliates. Now we have details of the corrective measures the union is taking at the national level to deal with persistent budget deficits.

NEA had already planned some cuts to close an estimated $17 million deficit, but evidently the union finds itself needing an additional $9.5 million to balance income with expenditures. Unfortunately, the union’s internal structure is not designed with swift and abrupt cost-cutting in mind. NEA has first transferred $1.9 million from its $3 million contingency fund into its general fund.

There is little relief to expect on the revenue side. Dues levels are set according to formula that is based on the average classroom teacher salary. Expected national dues for 2012-13 will be $180, a $2 per member increase.

But even that amount may be reduced or eliminated by continued membership losses. Last December 19, EIA reported: “It may take some time, and will probably happen under cover of darkness, but soon the claim that the National Education Association represents 3.2 million members will be adjusted downward, as the latest figures show the union’s total membership at well under 3.1 million.”

That occurred last week. A February 13 NEA press release claimed 3.2 million members. A February 15 press release reads, “more than 3 million.”

It is a measure of how serious the situation is that NEA executives see severe staff reductions as their only remaining option. NEA employees have been presented with an “exit program,” which is essentially an early retirement incentive. About 124 NEA staffers (out of about 580) are eligible to retire. The union is offering an additional 10 weeks of severance pay if they submit their paperwork by March 15. Most NEA employees are already guaranteed one week of severance pay for each year employed, up to 10.

The union is banking heavily on staffers accepting the offer, as “immediate” reductions in force and layoffs are the alternative. But there’s a problem.

Union “management” and confidential assistants may be dismissed right away, but most NEA employees are themselves members of unions, known as staff unions. And NEA is unable to lay off staff union members without 60 days of bargaining to come up with alternative measures. If no agreement is reached and NEA decides to go ahead with layoffs, the affected employees receive an additional 30 days notice. That means the school year will be over before the payroll can be reduced.

NEA’s financial troubles also have a ripple effect. Approximately one-third of the national union’s income is returned to its state affiliates in the form of UniServ grants. These grants help fund the cost of employing each state’s UniServ directors, who assist locals in contract negotiations, grievance processing and political action. Essentially, each UniServ grant is meant to provide services to 1,200 members. NEA expects that each 2012-13 grant will have to be reduced from the current $37,048 to $34,850 – almost a 6 percent cut. Affiliates will have to make up the difference themselves or reduce their own staffs in response.

As I have warned before, all these black clouds over NEA do not greatly affect its political action operations, particularly at the state level. The national union’s ballot measure/legislative crises fund is a segregated account with $27 million stashed away – of which only $6 million has already been awarded. The remaining amount is more than enough to exert a great influence on political campaigns in 2012.

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To: Brumar89 who wrote (847)2/25/2012 10:26:52 PM
From: joseffy
3 Recommendations   of 1352
Under a system shackled by protections for tenured teachers, they can’t be fired,

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To: greatplains_guy who wrote (858)2/25/2012 10:35:49 PM
From: joseffy
   of 1352
Schools "teach" homosexuality and groveling for muslims.

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To: joseffy who wrote (863)3/4/2012 12:01:57 PM
From: greatplains_guy
1 Recommendation   of 1352
Poor Measures? Choice Is the Answer
by Neal McCluskey
This article appeared on The New York Post on February 25, 2012.

A lot of teeth are gnashing right now over the release of performance evaluations for roughly 18,000 city public-school teachers. And there should be: While it's absolutely necessary to assess the people to whom we entrust our children, no single metric can capture nearly all that goes into education. But, then, this is what you get when you put government in charge.

The No. 1 tooth-gnasher is surely United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, who says, "The Department of Education should be ashamed of itself. It has combined bad tests, a flawed formula and incorrect data to mislead tens of thousands of parents about their children's teachers."

And Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott? He's warning that the information "is old data and ... just one piece of information."

But if everyone is so dissatisfied, why is the data being put out there? Yes, because a court said it must be, after a freedom-of-information battle waged by The Post and other media groups. But it goes deeper than that.

Because of the "public" in "public schools," what goes on with every teacher is of public concern. Moreover, the public pays the bills, so it owns the data. So, though it might make little sense to apply these results to decisions about any teacher, the public has every right to see them.

Unfortunately, performance assessments in government-run systems are doomed to be blunt instruments. Until recently, they were blunt in a way highly favorable to school employees: Basically, everyone was judged "satisfactory." Given the poor performance of many students in city schools, that was pretty hard to accept. But efforts to move away from that haven't been much sharper.

On a national basis, No Child Left Behind has been judging schools simply on how many kids are "proficient" in reading and mathematics. This largely ignores the hugely varying challenges faced by individual children and communities, and the progress they've made.

To escape that, the move has been toward "value-added assessment" in which schools, districts and teachers are judged on how much progress students under their tutelage make. The city's evaluations are such measures, with added efforts to account for such factors as poverty — an improvement over NCLB.

Yet the system is still much more sledgehammer than scalpel. It can't, for instance, account for the influence of non-math or reading teachers on math and reading scores.

It also suffers from two ills that lie at the heart of test-based accountability: 1) Far more than what can be easily tested goes into education — critical thinking, social skills, inculcation of values, etc. And 2) a test can be very limited even on the subject it's meant to measure — you could write a math test without long-division, or an English exam without Shakespeare.

So any top-down evaluation system will be a sledgehammer, and a government can have only one. Yet there is no single answer for how best to educate all children.

What's the solution? Educational freedom, in which parents control funding and educators are free to establish schools in which they teach as they see fit.

Rather than students being judged on a single test, schools would choose their own assessments. Rather than one curriculum for all, educators would control content themselves. Rather than one evaluation metric being forced on all teachers, schools would try different methods. And rather than being held accountable to bureaucracies, educators would be held accountable by having to attract and satisfy the parents and diverse children they're supposed to serve.

Unfortunately, here's where it becomes tough to sympathize with union officials. Though they rightly decry the failings of top-down evaluations, they even more vociferously fight any form of school choice. Apparently, it's more important to maintain their monopoly than go to the system that makes the most educational sense.

As long as they do that, they'll keep getting crummy evaluation systems — and the gnashing of teeth will continue.

Neal McCluskey is associate director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom and author of Feds in the Classroom: How Big Government Corrupts, Cripples, and Compromises American Education.

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