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Education? Anyone?

by PotPieMan (Hermit)
on Nov 08, 2000 at 11:09 UTC ( #40489=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to The most important issue for me in elections is:

I'm actually pretty surprised that no one has introduced education into the discussion.

I live in Florida, where I've had to put up with a Republican governor (a Bush, no less) who is pushing for "school accountability" and school vouchers. Jeb Bush rates public schools based on standardized test scores. If a school doesn't get a high enough grade, under Bush's proposal, parents can request state money to help put their child in a private school.

This is a bad idea for quite a few reasons. The obvious: we're taking money away from public schools, which are already strapped for money.

Additionally, the voucher proposal calculates the cost of educating each child as an average of the cost of educating all children. For example, it costs approximately $3000 a year to educate an "average" child, and about $15000 to educate a challenged child. Because there are fewer challenged children, the calculated cost comes to about $5000 a year.

A year of private education costs, on average, $7000. This means that parents have to come up with the difference. Poorer families will be unable to make up the difference, meaning that the system favors more advantaged children.

How does this proposal help? Why don't we work on reallocating money that is already in the school system, giving more to education if necessary?

Update: Okay, I'll stop ranting. I'm really nervous about the outcome of the presidential race here in Florida. It's really close.

PotPieMan


Comment on Education? Anyone?
RE: Vastly-OT? Education? Anyone?
by NodeReaper (Curate) on Nov 08, 2000 at 12:44 UTC
RE: Vastly-OT? Education? Anyone?
by mirod (Canon) on Nov 08, 2000 at 12:45 UTC

    As a foreigner (not even living in the US any more!) married to a former teacher in the Boston Public Schools I can just offer a comparison between the US and European systems.

    It seems to me that the main difference is that in the US money for education comes largely from local sources. Which means that poorer areas get less money than richer ones, hence increasing the gap between rich and poors. In Europe, by contrast, money if managed at country level, which makes it much easier to send money to the places where it can make a difference.

    Despite Massachussets being a fairly progressive place (and probably the best place on Earth to be a Perl geek!) no amount of state or federal funding seems to be able to overcome the basic fact that poor people do not pay enough taxes to pay for a decent school system (except if you're a rat or a cockroach!).

    Now (to try to come back slighltly on-topic) how this impacts the Perl Monks population is probably easy to find out: have a poll on race/ethnicity/whatever, especially amongst US citizens here and you'll likely to find an overwhelming majority of white folks, at least if I can judge by the crowd at the Perl Conference or YAPC.

    PS: sorry PotPieMan, as I am typing that it looks like dubya carried Florida and the Presidency with it :--(

      Your information is incorrect, most funding is at the state level.
RE: Education? Anyone?
by kael (Monk) on Nov 08, 2000 at 14:27 UTC
    Your doing the very same thing that your accusing them of, on average a private education may cost $7000 this means you can get it for less
    Money also is not IMHO the problem, I went to public schools last, (Gardner, MA) they had plenty of money, classrooms could easily have held twice as many students
    And compition is NEVER a bad thing, nor is choice. freedom==choice.
    What does more money actually do? reduce class size? That doesn't do anything, most catholic schools have classes of 60+ students but have better results than the public schools
    And it can put computers in the class room, but what exactly are they going to do with these computers? If your students are failing your current classes adding more isn't going to help, and having a couple computers in a classroom isn't going to magically change anything
    I very much disagree with the idea that we should just randomly throw money at public schools and hope the problem goes away, it won't
    BTW before any federal money gets added to the department of Education they should get their books in order. Congress hired a private company to go through and straighten out the books, that company was unable to do it. Their should be accountability on every level down to the cent.
      It is true that the average cost of a private education means that there are some schools at which you can get it for less money. (Specifically in my city, I don't think there is one private school that goes for less than $7000.)

      Competition is fine, as long as it's judged fairly. Jeb Bush judges schools on standardized test scores, which, in my opinion, don't show anything about intelligence. Just to get a passing grade under Jeb's system (the tests aren't very well written, by the way), teachers have to spend half the year teaching to the test. School vouchers might work if the money weren't allocated based on standardized test scores.

      Also, I'd like to reiterate that I wasn't necessarily for straight up giving more money to schools. The system definitely needs to be restructured so that it works more efficiently. For instance, teachers need more control over the money in a lot of schools.

      P.S. It's great that you lived in Massachusetts, where education is an important issue already. It's also a smaller state, so the system is easier to manage.

      PotPieMan

        It is true that the average cost of a private education means that there are some schools at which you can get it for less money. (Specifically in my city, I don't think there is one private school that goes for less than $7000.)
        True, BUT 1) most private schools offer financial aid for families that can't afford. 2) have you ever checked you might be amazed how cheap some private schools are.
        Jeb Bush judges schools on standardized test scores, which, in my opinion, don't show anything about intelligence.
        I'd like to hear a better way to measure results.
        Just to get a passing grade under Jeb's system (the tests aren't very well written, by the way), teachers have to spend half the year teaching to the test
        The test SHOULD (I haven't actually read it) be based on things that are sopposed to be taught anyway. people say the samething up here about the MCAS tests, but the questions are all about what you'd learn anyway.
RE: Education? Anyone?
by amelinda (Friar) on Nov 08, 2000 at 22:49 UTC
    (If you think these things don't apply to you, they probably don't, so don't be personally offended please... just consider if they might be generally applicable to the "teeming masses.")

    I think you're putting the cart before the horse. The quality and effectiveness of education will not and cannot improve until the attitudes of people (and especially students) change. Education seems to only be really important (as in, "I should actually bother studying and going to class") to a minority of children. So, no matter what you do with the education system, a lot kids will still just not care, still skip classes, still drop out. Of course, living in New Mexico (lousy schools, very high dropout-rate) might be influencing my impressions. :)

    In my opinion (currently valued at 2 pfennigs), the way people are attacking this problem is very similar to the way that abortion is attacked. They're going after surface issues and ignoring the underlying ones. Some people want to make it really easy to have one, some people want to make sure no one can have one, but almost nobody is trying to change the attitudes of people which induce them to want one. As long as there are incentives to have bastards (welfare) and have unprotected sex (boyfriend approval), there will be people who are desperately unprepared who will get pregnant and need abortions (or welfare).

    Gaaaaah, now I'm ranting. Sorry. Maybe I should mention He Who Kills UseNet Threads so this can be ended....

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