February 19, 2009

Help Arne Duncan spend $5 billion!

From the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama wants to do more than save teachers' jobs or renovate classrooms with his economic recovery bill. He wants to transform the federal government's role in education.

Public schools will get an unprecedented amount of money — double the education budget under George W. Bush — from the stimulus bill in the next two years. With those dollars, Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan want schools to do better. ...

The bill includes a $5 billion fund solely for these innovations, an amount that might not seem like much, considering the bill's $787 billion price tag. But it is massive compared with the $16 million in discretionary money Duncan's predecessors got each year for their own priorities.

"It's unprecedented that a secretary would have this much money and this much latitude," said Charlie Barone, director of federal policy for the group Democrats for Education Reform.

Congress laid out broad guidelines for the fund in the stimulus bill that became law on Tuesday. But it will be up to Duncan and the team of advisers he is assembling to decide how to dole out the money. They have until Oct. 1, when the next fiscal year begins, to start distributing the dollars.

What would the fund pay for? Rewarding states and school districts that are making big progress.

For example, Tennessee recently overhauled its graduation requirements and academic standards as it works to boost student achievement. As part of that effort, officials want more rigorous state tests; Tennessee has been criticized because students pass state exams with flying colors, yet they do poorly on well-regarded national tests. Better tests cost money.

Really? Raising the passing score from X% to X + 20% requires zillions from the feds?

Or in California, school officials would like to expand the ConnectEd curricula, now in 16 high schools, that links academics to actual work in aerospace, biomedicine and other careers. The program is aimed at getting students ready for college and keeping them from dropping out.

Okay, but if your program "links academics to actual work," why is it "aimed at getting students ready for college?" Perhaps I'm misinformed, but I was always under the impression that college is not work. You have to pay to go to college, but when you go to work, they pay you, right? So college<>work. ...

To get the money, states will have to show they are making good progress in four areas:

_Boosting teacher effectiveness and getting more good teachers into high-poverty, high-minority schools;

Why does everybody always assume it's a self-evidently good idea in the public schools to send good teachers to teach bad students, when nobody thinks that way about any other form of instruction?

Nobody has ever asked Barack Obama why he taught at the U. of Chicago Law School, which is full of very bright students from the upper middle class, instead of some fourth tier law school that caters to marginal students.

For example, Tiger Woods' swing coach, Hank Haney, is often considered the best golf instructor in the country. And everybody simply finds that perfectly reasonable: of course Tiger has the top swing expert. The best student can absorb the most wisdom from the best teacher. And of course the best teacher wants to teach the best student.

Yet, if I were to apply Arne Duncan's conventional wisdom about public education to golf teachers, I'd say: "It's a national disgrace that the best golf teachers waste their time on the best golfers. Why is Hank Haney frittering away his time trying to cut Tiger Woods's average score from 68 to 67 when he could be cutting my average score to 96 from 114? [Estimate based on my one round of golf in 2008, assuming I hadn't given up keeping score on the third hole in shame.]

Granted, Haney could only cut my score by 18 strokes if I also went and practiced what he taught me. Admittedly, even though I live three blocks from a driving range, I've only hit one bucket of balls there in the last nine years. But the reason I never practice must be because of society's soft bigotry of low expectations based on what my swing looks like. (I have this feeling that other golfers at the range would say to me, "Hey, buddy, Charles Barkley called. He wants his swing back.")

_Setting up data systems to track how much a student has learned from one year to the next;

_Improving academic standards and tests;

_Supporting struggling schools.

Also, at the urging of Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, the fund sets aside $650 million for school districts or districts in partnership with nonprofit groups.

$650 million for nonprofit groups?

Paging Bill Ayers!

Enough sniping, however. Please help me in the comments come up with ideas that might actually improve education.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

85 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Obama wants stimulus to transform schools"

In South Africa "Transformation" is code for redistributing jobs, wealth and educational opportunities from whites to blacks. Since they cannot maintain the academic standards in place in previously white schools, they just dumb down the curriculum until the results are desirable. Of course now whites also profit, and many previously lousy whites get astronomical grades. Lately there have been calls to limit white achievement through a type of academic Handicap. In spite of all this tinkering, the black results remain miserable. Some black educational officials have even stated in public that Apartheid education was better for blacks. Imagine that. Of course the NYT ignored it.

Ivy said...

Read your "How to Help the Lower Half of the Bell Curve" article.

I've been preaching the same sorts of ideas for years (i.e. funnel low intelligence kids intoblue-collar apprenticeships, increase vo-tech education, increase tracking, increase spending on gifted, decrease liberal arts requirements for engineers, etc...). I've only been met with astonishment and disdain. Upon reading that article, it occurred to me that not everyone is imbued with the same politically correct delusion espoused by the likes of Arne Duncan and Barack Obama.

Anonymous said...

I'd say the classical German system (pre WWI) was the best. The brightest went to either technical university where sciences and engineering were taught. The standards were high and the aim was to produce capable engineers, no matter how many failed. Humanities and theology was studied at the other universities which were often theological faculties that had expanded, with the discipline common with those faculties 100 years ago.

The remainder either went to a technical school or became tradesmen. All menial jobs, incl. soldiers, policemen, nurses, tellers, waitresses and even road cleaners were considered trades and got some form of training. Most people can learn a trade, especially when the master tradesman, who also pays their small salary, exercise some discipline. Since most can get a trade, and most tradesmen found a job, there was no excuse to bum off the tax payer. Add national military service with 3 years duty to discipline the youth, and most people ended up doing something useful.

The thing to realise is that most people are not college or uni material, but at best tradesmen or artisans, in the extended sense of the word.

This obsession that leftists and especially blacks have with education comes from a misplaced inferiority complex which they try and alleviate through education. Robert Mugabe has 5 degrees. What good has it done his country? A traditional government bureaucrat with a proper classical civil service education (4 years in Germany at special civil service schools), would probably have made a better head of state, dutifully, boringly fulfilling his governmental obligations, which are mostly tedious paperwork and not philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Easy: screen and stream.

Test their abilities -- you can even get creative with "multiple intelligences" if you want an easy out or have to explain yourself -- and push them towards the sorts of knowledge they might actually stand a chance of acquiring and actually enjoy the process of acquiring it.

Some emphasis on practical life skills would also be a good idea, like pounding some basic financial sense into kids' skulls. All of the important topics in arithmetic can be covered here, with the benefit that kids receive immediate evidence of math's real world application.

Place a greater emphasis on statistics and introduce it earlier. Particularly valuable would be lessons on the use and misuse of statistics, and the value of statistics in describing the world (bell curves!!).

Reading, comprehension and grammar, drill, drill, drill, drill, drill.

Get rid of foreign languages. Even though classes would be streamed, still only the very brightest kids would ever learn enough to be able to communicate. Since the pace would have to be significantly slowed so that the less bright brights can make headway, nowhere near enough can be taught in high school, making it a complete waste of time. Save languages for college.

But the centerpiece has to be screen and stream. (Even better, screen, stream and segregate but beggars, choosers and all that.)

Screen and stream. As Karate Kid's Johnny Kreese might have said, "Screen and stream. Do you have a problem with that?"

Lawful Neutral said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: separate teaching from credentialling. It'll never happen, but if I were Emperor of America this would be priority number one.

Lawful Neutral said...

To expand a little on my previous comment, the federal government could use that $5B to set up a testing and credentialling service which would replace all educational qualifications for federal jobs. Private companies would see the value of such credentials and the whole thing would take off.

Anonymous said...

You live in southern California 3 blocks from a driving range and you don't go?

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, and privatization and getting rid of child labor laws would help improve education and maybe even lead to it being of some practical use.

Anonymous said...

650 million for smart couples to have more children.

Anonymous said...

The Core Knowledge Reading Program looks like the best hope for making improvements in teaching kids to read...

http://coreknowledge.org/CK/schools/KTR/pilot.htm

The Simple View of Reading

http://coreknowledge.org/CK/about/CommonKnowledge/v19II_2006/v19_II_2006_simpleviewofreading.htm

http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/primaryframework/foundation/early/simple

Gene Berman said...

I'll bite.

My first (and most important) suggestion would be to eliminate all federal funding of primary and secondary education and all influence over their curricula and administration.

Actually, I think vast improvement in outcomes would be possible if all public funding were eliminated as well as compulsion beyond eighth grade.

Colonel Cramdown said...

"Enough sniping, however. Please help me in the comments come up with ideas that might actually improve education."

Our Attorney General says that we're all a bunch of cowards for not talking about race more.

So we need to...

1. Overcome our cowardice
2. Talk about race more
3. Profit

Anonymous said...

114?
Good Gawd, did you even hit one shot respectably?
I'm surprised you still follow the game with that kind of helplessness on the course.

Nick said...

I was recently a public school student. From my experience, students will not learn if they don't want to learn. Therefore, my solution is to get better students.

Born Again Democrat said...

Web cams with public feeds in all public school class rooms -- 2 cameras per room.

That way parents can check up on their kid's teachers; prindiples (and the public) can monitor classroom behavior, etc.

After all these are "public" schools: why can't the public see what it is paying for?

Born Again Democrat said...

Another idea (not my own): switch to large, cafeteria-style highschools with a large selection of vocational AND academic offerings but only a bare minimum of required courses to graduate, e.g., basic arithmetic and American history and use of a keyboard, plus maybe cooking and driver ed. Students, not parents or the authorities choose what to take. No more magnet schools, and a much bigger emphasis on acheivement and aptitude tests to get into college. In fact, don't even publish grades or send out transcripts. Just insist upon classroom discipline.

The idea is to destigmatize vocational training and perhaps encourage (require) the academically talented to get a little basic vocational training themselves. Welding anybody?

Born Again Democrat said...

Two more ideas:

1) Standard class size of 50 instead of 30 (let alone 18), since studies (and history) show that class size has little effect. Good teachers and discipline are the key. Result: public money more effectively spent.

2. Again, total monitoring of student behavior: cameras everywhere, in hallways and on the grounds -- maybe even ankle bracelets for all, so if there is trouble you know where to look and and what time in the day. Large populations of children from multi-ethnic backgrounds and vastly different social classes HAVE TO BE POLICED if they are going to grow up to trust each other. Time to get real.

Matt G. said...

Educational improvement must come through a combination of hard work, self-discipline, and motivation on the part of the students. These values are instilled by the parents who value education and the community at large which also values education. Billion dollar government programs can't instill this. It must come from within.

Robbie said...

> Why does everybody always
> assume it's a self-evidently
> good idea in the public schools
> to send good teachers to teach
> bad students...


Because people take for granted that in the public schools, equality is the supreme goal.

> Please help me in the
> comments come up with ideas that
> might actually improve education.


-- Pay students for getting high test scores.

-- Give vocational training to kids who are unsuited to academic subjects.

Robert Sperry said...

Frankly I'd prefer to get the government out of education, but if not:

Nation Wide roll out of Direct Instruction, Particularly for k-3. It’s proven, it scales, and it can work with the existing framework.

Nation wide roll out of classroom management by positively re-enforcing good behavior. See the good behavior game for one implementation. You get a lot of this with DI, but this is more widely applicable.

Creation of a field of Educational Engineering and something comparable to the FDA for public education products (the potential evil of this applying to private matters makes me shiver). We need R but mostly D in education, and a solid way to evaluate efficacy, and lots of nice longitudinal studies.

Some apprentice/mentor program to get kids in professional work places at younger ages. Need to end the separation of teens from adults. People should be working on being net economic producers from a younger age.

Educational Tax deduction for homeschoolers. They outperform everyone else and should be supported.

New law saying that schools that receive federal funds must give out the same amount in academic scholarships as they do for sports. (ie there should be incentives for working hard at being smart)

Lucius Vorenus said...

Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan

So Michael Bennet decided to become a Senator instead?

Lucius Vorenus said...

Steve Sailer: Please help me in the comments come up with ideas that might actually improve education.

Not to be a jerk, but why do you consistently lack the courage to follow your ideas through to their logical conclusions?

If half of all American children have IQs which are at or below 85 [or 83.5 and falling, or even 79 (cf Guatemala)], and if an IQ of about 90 is necessary just for the most rudimentary mastery of the three R's, then you can't come to any conclusion other than that the situation is simply hopeless: A huge portion [25%? 30%? 35%? 40%?] of all American children are simply ineducable [i.e. genetically incapable of being educated], and some further large portion can't [even in theory] be educated much beyond working the cash register and making change at McDonald's [and that's a cash register where the keys are embossed with pictures of a Big Mac rather than the actual alphabetical spelling which we know as "B-I-G-_-M-A-C"].

LemmusLemmus said...

I guess the correlation between being a great teacher for poor students and being a great teacher for great students is about 0.3.

SF said...

Bring back tracking, as low as seventh grade in math and science. Have more classes segregated by sex. Replace the current Cal. teacher credentialling process with an internship program supplemented by summer teaching classes. Less testing, more teaching. Sorry, none of these things cost much money.

jz said...

Educating students doesn't cost more money , but preventing dropout does. Educating a motivated student is cheap. Entertaining an at risk (of drop out) student with in-school hydroponics, aerospace labs, etc. is expensive

steve burton said...

Easy:

(1) Eliminate compulsory attendance. Kids who don't want to be there shouldn't be there. They learn nothing, and they drag everybody else down with them.

(2) Stop coddling persistently disruptive students. They should be out of school a.s.a.p., and onto the job market - where they will soon learn far more important life lessons than anything they're learning in the classroom.

(3) Eliminate all "academic" requirements for graduation. English beyond basic literacy, Mathematics beyond basic arithmetic, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc. - these should all be purely elective, and aimed at the minority of students who actually give a damn about such stuff. Stop pretending that kids who have to be forced into taking such courses have a viable future in academia or high tech.

(4) Replace said "academic" requirements for graduation by insisting that everybody learn a *marketable skill*: plumbing, carpentry, electrical wiring, roofing, auto-repair, truck-driving, nursing - heck, *anything* that is always needed, and that they can fall back on when times are hard.

Steve Sailer said...

"Good Gawd, did you even hit one shot respectably?"

I'm glad you asked!

11th hole tee shot -- 291 yards down the middle of the fairway.

Golf is a cruel mistress that keeps you coming back ...

Ronduck said...

Abolish public education!

Lucius Vorenus said...

Anonymous: 650 million for smart couples to have more children.

Nick: I was recently a public school student... Therefore, my solution is to get better students.

This is our only hope - better parents making better babies who grow up to be better students.

But given the stranglehold that nihilism has on Western [to include Pacific Rim]intelligentsia, there is almost no hope right now for the "making babies" part.

Almost everywhere you look in the civilized world today, you see nihilism-induced suicidal [policidal/democidal] fertility rates.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lucius. The situation is hopeless on a federal level. Any federal solutions will be designed to do the most good for the population as a whole, and the population as a whole consists of:

* a majority of catastrophically dumb people
* a large minority of people of what we on this board would consider average intelligence
* a tiny minority of smart people

To make things worse, the first group has been torn from their cultural moorings and has nearly no defenses against the toxicity of modernity (the American Catholic Church is grotesquely failing to do its job here); the second group is full of resentment, being just smart enough to know what they can't achieve but not smart enough to resist the propaganda that it's whitey's fault; and public education turns the third group into sociopaths.

There is a LOT of hope on a regional level, however. The first thing that has to be done to improve education is the states and cities need to tell the feds thanks, but no thanks; we don't need your money. Then we can have some actual diversity.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Me: If half of all American children have IQs which are at or below 85...

That ought to say something like "If half of all American children come from groups with average IQs which are at or below 85..."

Sorry.

Reader said...

For undergraduate university education in California, upgrade all CSUs to UCs and downgrade all UCs to CSUs. Give the smartest kids the small classroom sizes with lots of one-on-one professor time and put the second tier students in the 400-person lecture halls. Why is "reducing classroom size" so important for grade school education but totally neglected at the university level?

testing99 said...

I can tell what my organization does (I am involved as a volunteer).

We take the best/brightest students (high grades) who qualify for the school lunch program and give them extensive tutoring in science and math, prepare/assist with College admission. These are Juniors and Seniors.

So, right off the bat we are talking about the most qualified (about 20-24 out of a population of 10,000 students in the districts we operate within).

These kids have potential, but lack the "Cultural Capital" to succeed, their mostly immigrant parents have no clue as to how to teach their kids dress, comportment, professionalism, study habits, future time orientation, thrift, etc.

What we've done is get these kids into good schools, for example Microbiology at MIT, Electrical Engneering at Stanford. And by "get into" I mean the kids graduate as the top scholars within the program. Highest GPA, etc.

We focus on Science and Math, which are easily grasped even with language barriers, and offer solid payoffs in earnings.

This is the equivalent of a Baseball scouting operation scouring the Dominican for talent and nurturing it along. Providing coaching and support so the talent does not fall off into nothingness.

What makes our program successful is the following:

*Selection: only the smartest get accepted.
*Outside school, it's outside the regular school system and off-campus.
*Payment/Stipend -- the kids face tremendous pressure from families to quit school and work immediately, to bring in cash, even giving up an upside of a College career and more cash later.

Contra Steve, there is a huge amount of low Future Time orientation in certain immigrant communities, kids with genuine talent are dropping out because of huge pressure to start earning money NOW. A modest payment ensures that they can continue in school until College, by that time they are generally away from the family, working part-time, and still graduating Magna/Summa out of tough, science/engineering programs.

We don't spend much on the students, it's fairly trivial, as is overhead.

You probably get the most payoff from a strategy like this: identify talent that is under-utilized, provide teaching/training on how to conduct yourself for success (be on time, dress properly, be respectful, a team-player, always prepared) and so on.

Please note: this is not rocket science. The Catholic Schools (some of them, mostly the ones run by the Jesuits) and the Boy Scouts used to do this all the time.

It's the collapse of institutions that taught kids without parents able/willing to do so on how to succeed, the values and habits neccessary, that cause big wastes of human capital.

This won't "fix" kids with low IQs and already ingrained habits. But a kid scoring at the top of his class, who has a high IQ, but bad social networks at home to prepare for success, yes it CAN and does make a huge difference and makes society richer. With a Phd in Molecular Biology (several alumni in that program in Cal) rather than a waiter or cook.

As for kids on the bottom, while they won't become Molecular Biologists, they can become far better citizens and cooks if voluntary, community programs taught extensively "good habits" of delayed gratification, politeness, thrift, etc.

What we really need to do is rebuild our civil society organizations outside government. Culture and habits matter, especially for those poorer and less smart.

Anonymous said...

Teach lower intelligence students practicle knowledge that will improve their lives. E.G. trades, componding growth, simple principals of physics and chemistry without math etc.

Also "Direct Instruction" seems to hold some promise.

RGH said...

Tutorial-based instruction. One thing I discovered as a high school teacher was that the top third or so of the kids would learn in a traditional classroom, given adequate teaching, while the bottom two-thirds would learn almost nothing. What worked for the bottom two-thirds, however, was one-on-one tutorials. (By “worked” I mean that the kids could learn basic skills-not become rocket scientists.) An average or below average kid will get more out of three hours per week of one-to-one tutoring than they would from sitting in class for 35 hours. I think if we could give kids the option of tutorial-based instruction, many of them could learn the basic skills they are not learning now. That would free up a lot of time for them to work, apprentice, or learn a trade some other way.

I used to teach home-bound kids (kids who had a doctor’s note saying they couldn’t attend school) for extra cash, and that’s the way it worked. I’d meet with them three times per week to answer questions, give them feedback on their work, and give them tests. Almost all of them did better on homebound than they did when in class.

For the younger kids we could bring back dame schools (we’d have to call them something else, of course). A teacher could be assigned eight or nine kids in a home-like setting and teach them using tutorial-based methods, much like a home-school mom would do.

Anonymous said...

This is a boon for the gentiles. The only jobs they're capable of anymore are teacher positions at public schools.

RGH said...

On improving teacher quality, schools could learn from private training companies. After leaving the public schools I went to work for a company doing computer training. Here’s what I found:
- Communication skills were paramount. When I interviewed for the job I confessed to knowing nothing about computers; the manager shrugged it off, saying, “We can teach you what you need to know – we need people who know how to teach.” To get the job I had to audition three different times by teaching sessions to all the other trainers, along with the managers, secretaries, and sales reps. After getting the job they put me through training in presenting classes that was far beyond anything I had had in my teacher training.
- Knowledge of the subject matter was secondary. Once you obtained the threshold of knowing the content of the course, additional knowledge was less valuable than communication skills. Good communicators who knew the course content and little else were more successful than deeply knowledgeable trainers with less than stellar teaching skills. This was even true in the technical courses (the knowledge threshold was higher, of course).
Schools should focus on getting teachers that really know how to teach instead of worrying about credentials. They should audition them to see how they present a lesson and handle a class. They should make sure the teachers know the subject matter to a threshold level, but, for other than advanced classes, worrying too much about subject matter knowledge is a waste of time.

Reg Cæsar said...

Why does everybody always assume it's a self-evidently good idea in the public schools to send good teachers to teach bad students... --SS

Analogy Flaw Alert! As seen in the next sentence: ... Tiger Woods' swing coach, Hank Haney, is often considered the best GOLF instructor in the country. Charley Lau was a great swing instructor, too, specializing in helping black guys (e.g. Amos Otis) hit little white balls. But Lau and Haney were by no means interchangeable. Same here... educing the best from the best students and bringing stupid and/or unmotivated kids to adequacy are two very different tasks, as different as swinging at a stationary and at a moving target.

If by "best teachers", Duncan meant simply those best at the latter task, then his statement is quite defensible. Though not his position in the federal government...

kudzu bob said...

Ask something hard, why don't you? Let's simply abolish the Department of Education. Better yet, abolish the Department of Education, then put all the unemployed bureaucrats to work in the uranium mines. Everybody wins!

Lucius Vorenus said...

RGH: What worked for the bottom two-thirds, however, was one-on-one tutorials.

When the government gets into the business of making 1-to-1 assignments between bureaucrats and private citizens, then you're delving deep into the heart of who will watch the watchers? territory.

RGH: A teacher could be assigned eight or nine kids in a home-like setting and teach them using tutorial-based methods, much like a home-school mom would do.

Gee, it's a real crying shame that somehow [some way, for some reason that I just can't quite put my finger on] their very own Moms can't home school them in the comfort of their very own homes.

What a tragedy.

Gosh, I guess we could ask [or demand?] that a small army of young IQ 115+ Caucasian girls - fresh out of college - give up the very most fertile years of their lives in 1-to-1 homeschooling of the children of IQ 85- third world minorities [soon to be majorities].

That would be an excellent [really a first rate, even outstanding, nay - exemplary!] use of the young, fertile Caucasian womb.

After all, who would baby-sit the babies of the baby-sitters?

Hank Paulson said...

If half of all American children have IQs which are at or below 85...and if an IQ of about 90 is necessary just for the most rudimentary mastery of the three R's, then you can't come to any conclusion other than that the situation is simply hopeless...

Hopeless?

Either you're a weak beta male or "you are not sufficiently evil", or "hard" as they say in the joint.

If you're a weak beta you can always make yourself into a stronger beta. Take lots of steroids, lift weights half the day and learn combat techniques and become a weapons and firearms expert.

You will need to adjust because we are going back to a more primitive, natural existence where a man can be a man again. You'll be able to shoot people you get into casual arguments with, and simply "take" or purchase women who catch your eye. Barbarianism has its perks.

Think of a society with $3/day servants and cheap bodyguards and a constant unending stream of desperate prostitutes. If you have capital funds, think of all the hungry factory laborers ready to work for next to nothing. A man can make a fortune in that environment.

Sure, the rampant kidnappings will be an annoyance. And helicoptering the kids to school takes getting used to. But you just need to get into the right frame of mind. Sort of like your first week of a long prison term: you need to just forget about your old reality and embrace the new reality. Embrace the New America!

Everyone was getting tired of the Constitution and all of that boring oppressive white culture anyway. The concept of ordered liberty was basically an evil racist white scheme and it was always overrated. But most of all it was a borefest.

Anglo-Saxon Western Civilization is so yesterday. I, for one, am looking forward to the exciting new culture of our Asiatic-Mestizo-African gangster state where we all carry guns and machetes and chew stimulants and act out really macho impulses.

Reg Cæsar said...

Reading, comprehension and grammar, drill, drill, drill, drill, drill.

Excellent idea. Too bad it's followed immediately by the worst suggestion I've ever seen in 10 years on iSteve.com:

Get rid of foreign languages... only the very brightest kids would ever learn enough to be able to communicate.... Save languages for college.

I'm not surprised this comment is made anonymously. Does the writer know anything at all about how children learn?

For 3000 years foreign-language instruction had been the centerpiece of instruction from the age of first literacy. Only radical progressives like the Prussians and Horace Mann would throw things out because of "irrelevance".

Language learning is "reading, comprehension, grammar, drill"! This is how all healthy children learn in those years from about 7 to 12, dumber kids for somewhat longer. By the time one is in college, the brain has solidified to the point where it probably can't learn a first foreign language at all.

Thomas Fleming of the Rockford Institute, a classics teacher himself, has made the point that learning Latin is tailor-made for duller children, as it's mostly rote-- he speaks from experience on this.

European children learn foreign tongues from a young age, though they've given up Latin for English, presumably to sell more to the Anglo-Saxons. Ironically African kids, with their median IQ of 70, get the best elementary schooling in the world. They don't just learn another language, they learn in another language-- French, English, Portuguese, Arabic, Swahili, whatever. Just as our Founding Fathers did.

sj071 said...

Lucius is spot on. Followed by further inflation of grades and deflation of knowledge.
I see this $5 Billion Education Quest differently, i.e. as a sideshow in A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Say, 15-year old smartass kid in your town is looking forward to pursue his career in engineering.
Engineering average graduate age in the USA is around 25-28 (please correct if wrong), let's give kid some credit,..say.. 27, Masters 2 years , PhD ( surely a must these days) at least another 3, more like 3.5 years.
Young man will be only 33 and ready to take on the world in the Year 2027 A.D.

2027? Yes.
Let's just not discuss ongoing economic crisis and assume it will all work out splendidly for Obama & Co.

Given the 'known knowns'factors; globalization, offshoring, quest for more and more H1-B, subsidising foreign science and engineering graduates, ongoing gutting and transfer of once-proud US manufacturing base, short-term vision, etc.; what can this bright young American expect upon entering labor market?

I dare say... very little.

Anonymous said...

Well, always one to take things to an extreme:

How about 1 student per classroom with 2 teachers? One female teacher to instruct and a male "teacher" to enforce discipline.

Also school 12 hours per day 365 days per year?

This will also solve the unemployment problem.

Anonymous said...

Reader said...
For undergraduate university education in California, upgrade all CSUs to UCs and downgrade all UCs to CSUs. Give the smartest kids the small classroom sizes with lots of one-on-one professor time and put the second tier students in the 400-person lecture halls. Why is "reducing classroom size" so important for grade school education but totally neglected at the university level?



I never really found this to be a problem when I was a student at a UC. Most of my classes had 30-50 students, and even the huge lecture-hall courses were broken up into discussion groups of 10-30 students run by either the professors themselves or by top-notch grad students. Not to mention plenty of office hours.

No, the real problem at UC was that so many students were so woefully unprepared for college. Most had poor reading comprehension, poor writing skills, and little knowledge of anything except recent movies, TV shows, pop music, celebrity gossip and maybe sports. (Math and hard science majors were generally a cut or two above in academic skills, probably because there's less room for bullshit in these subjects, and because those who major in these subjects have higher IQs.)

Anyway...

For what it's worth, I agree with those who recommend screening & streaming from about age 12 or 14, though I do think there should be some common curriculum: lots of non-PC American history and modern world history, lots of grammar exercises and essay writing practice, arithmetic, some basic logic and statistics.

And, oh yes, Drill, baby, drill! Too many teachers think of these skills courses as being like small-pox inoculation: one shot and you're immunized forever against incompetence. Rubbish. Like playing a sport or an instrument, it takes daily practice over a period of years for even the most basic intellectual skills to sink in. Drill, drill, drill. Review, review, review. Over and over again until it sticks.

We might also want to do something to improve the quality of the people who go into public school teaching. Get rid of our faddish education departments and their worthless education degrees. Make prospective teachers learn real subjects like math, instead of "math education". Abolish teachers' unions, which have degenerated into featherbedding rackets for lazy, incompetent people.

Lucius Vorenus said...

testing99: I can tell what my organization does (I am involved as a volunteer).

We take the best/brightest students (high grades) who qualify for the school lunch program and give them extensive tutoring in science and math, prepare/assist with College admission. These are Juniors and Seniors.

So, right off the bat we are talking about the most qualified (about 20-24 out of a population of 10,000 students in the districts we operate within).


T99, I love you bro', but dude, seriously now:

10,000 - 20 = 9,980!!!

20 / 10,000 = 0.002 = two tenths of one percent!!!

You're volunteering your time with a statistical anomaly - what I believe the physicists call a "transient phenomenon" [when they're dealing with little quirks and oddities and nuisances that they just want to sweep right under the rug - out of sight and out of mind].

Reg Cæsar said...

Ivy:
I've been preaching the same sorts of ideas for years (i.e. funnel low intelligence kids intoblue-collar apprenticeships, increase vo-tech education, increase tracking, ...) I've only been met with astonishment and disdain.


When Al Gore brought his Goals 2000 plan to Minnesota (known locally as "Profiles in Learning"), the educational Right simply exploded with rage at our importing Prussian "tracking" to Lake Wobegon. They waged an apparently successful campaign against it. (Supposedly "leftist" Minnesota not only threw this out, but was the first state to try charter schools and cross-district enrollment choice.)

At the time, a Louisianian told me that tracking was the normal way in his state.

I understand the outrage at tracking, especially in middle-class, lily-white Minnesota. If your kid gets misdirected, he may be stuck for life. Because Teachers Never Make Mistakes. As a perceptive German once said, it's easier to push a cow through a keyhole than to get one bureaucrat to question the word of another.


Ivy again: ...decrease liberal arts requirements for engineers...

Uh, as Germany did a century ago, with epic results...?

No, engineers should get plenty of liberal arts education-- but before, rather than during,college. Where are the Eiffels and Brunels of our age?

Tony Danton said...

Half of American children are not too stupid to succeed. Overall about ten or fifteen percent are-but we know what the bell curves by race say, and they are right.

People under about the high 80s should be subsidized, sterilized and disenfranchised. The much larger overall group from 87 to 96 IQ, roughly, should be steered to a votech curriculum and to factory work.

Anonymous said...

What would the fund pay for? Rewarding states and school districts that are making big progress.

What progress? Isn't our society going to hell? On second thought, I'm sure that student performance in the New Orleans public school system has made some progress since Katrina. How could it not have, considering the kind of demographic change that's happened there? Something tells me however that the Dept. of Education is not going to reward New Orleans for that.

Anonymous said...

American education is still the best in the world. I don't see the point of all this hand-wringing. How many of the top 20 universities in the world are in the US? 15? No other country comes close. So what is all the sobbing about?

If anything, it's too damn good, too damn fast. Good to the point of creating things that will eventually destroy, obsolete, or out-evolve humanity.

The problem of American education isn't in the low end and the too slow. It's in the high end and the too fast.

David Davenport said...

... Another idea (not my own): switch to large, cafeteria-style highschools with a large selection of vocational AND academic offerings but only a bare minimum of required courses to graduate, e.g., basic arithmetic and American history and use of a keyboard, plus maybe cooking and driver ed. ..

Huh? That's the way many American high schools are and have been for a long time. What's good about that?

David Davenport said...

If you're a weak beta you can always make yourself into a stronger beta. Take lots of steroids, lift weights half the day and learn combat techniques and become a weapons and firearms expert.

Taking notes, T99? No LINUX, and throw away most of those useless books.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I guess we could ask [or demand?] that a small army of young IQ 115+ Caucasian girls - fresh out of college - give up the very most fertile years of their lives in 1-to-1 homeschooling of the children of IQ 85- third world minorities [soon to be majorities].

That would be an excellent [really a first rate, even outstanding, nay - exemplary!] use of the young, fertile Caucasian womb.


As a possessor of such a womb and such an IQ, let me tell you, the pressure to do exactly this thing is brutal, and the worst part is IT DOESN'T EASE UP even after you'd think you'd made it clear you'll be staying home and teaching your own. Obviously I should be sticking my children in the public schools ASAP and using my nurturing qualities to improve those schools for the good of all. OBVIOUSLY. WHAT COULD I POSSIBLY HAVE BETTER TO DO.

Dan Kurt said...

re:" Anonymous said...
I'd say the classical German system (pre WWI) was the best. The brightest went to either technical university where sciences and engineering were taught.
[snip]
Add national military service with 3 years duty to discipline the youth, and most people ended up doing something useful."

My paternal grandfather came to the USA pre WWI to escape the draft in Germany (he was from the Baltic edge) because the draft was not 3 years but 12 years in that region of Germany. Of course, one had to pass the physical and mental requirements in peace time to be inducted. His later brother in law who I knew as Uncle Charley did get drafted and served in prewar peacetime and then on three fronts during the entire war and finally made it to the USA in the 1920s. His wife, my Great Aunt, died young because ( it was said ) the starvation inflicted by the Brits and French after the war ended. Both my grand father Uncle Charley had had basic schooling before they were 17. The uneducated and dull were not let into the German Military.

Dan Kurt

Tino said...

Few people have better intuition on this than Steve himself, so I won’t point out the obvious stuff he already has covered (e.g coaches, drill sergeants). I will make one point I have not seen Steve make. It would help, but is quite difficult to implement in practive:

Subtitles. One reason kids in Sweden, Norway, Netherlands and a few other linguistically small European countries do well on reading is that half or more of the TV they watch is in English, with subtitles in the respective language.

This forces you to read while doing something fun, and especially reaches a group of boys that would never read on their own. (As a bonus it teaches you better English).

Two possibilities: put English subtitles in English programming. Might help a little, especially for immigrant children.

Buy more foreign language programs (say Japanese Manga, Spanish soap for the women , Hong Kong fighting movies for the boys) and show it with English subtitles.

Anonymous said...

"After all, who would baby-sit the babies of the baby-sitters?"

Actually, if we just got out of our hardassed mindset and allowed our smart, fertile Caucasian girls to take their babes with them when they go teach the 6 underachievers in a homelike setting, we'd see an explosion of smart, fertile(hopefully married) Caucasian girls giving birth to smart Caucasian babies.

The reason for the fertility dropoff is the smart Caucasian girls can see how difficult it is to combine working with childrearing, and since the cost of living, inflation-tax, means it requires two incomes to live modestly, the childbearing is what doesn't get done.

As an old La Leche League Leader, I have talked to many, many, young women who are gutsick at leaving their babes with sitters, but who would give a kidney to have a job that babe could come along.

But, we also have to bring back into acceptability the good old fashioned idea of discipline. The Fred Jones system is excellent.

Direct Instruction is excellent. I taught my children to read before Kindergarten with it. "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" by Siegfried Englemann.

Anonymous said...

With all respect, ma'am, who is going to pay for that woman to teach the underachievers while she nurses her baby in the sling? That's money being taken out of her husband's paycheck.

And what does she do when she has a second or third baby in the sling and the older children are into everything? And when her older children are picking up ebonics and worse from the underachievers?

Women don't want to work, they want to pay off their student loans. Just tell them not to get the loans in the first place. Tell them to get married early and go back to school when the children are grown and their husband can pay for it.

dodapilii said...

1. Have separate teachers for each subject-matter starting with 5th grade.
2. At the end of the 8th grade, administer a difficult "entrance" exam for pupils wanting to continue to higher grades (9-12). Subject-matters : English and Mathematics. Those who fail go to a 'technical" school for 2 more years and then into the labor market as so-called "blue-collars". Those who pass go to a "theoretical" school where subjects are taught at a higher level.
3. At the end of the 12th grade, administer a *very* difficult entrance exam for enrollment into a college.
4. Have smaller high-schools: 500-600 pupils (total) versus 2500-3000 (common today).
5. Reduce considerably (even eliminate) sports in high-school: no more stadiums and Olympic-size swimming-pools at (almost) every high-school; no more quasi-professional teams of football, basketball, baseball and other *ball sports; no more extensive practice schedules for pupils engaged in sports. Concentrate on academics. Pupils who want to practice a sport at a high level will go to special "sports schools" where academics are of secondary importance.
6. Reduce considerably the "technology" in the classrooms. It is mostly a waste of money. Niels Bohr (to pick just one example) or Albert Einstein (a much more popular example) did not have TVs and VCRs and "smart-boards", yet they have contributed substantially to science.
7. Have very competent teaches in their respective fields (I strongly disagree with a previous commenter). Only knowledgeable teachers can transmit correct information in an efficient way.
These are just a few suggestions. I have more.
Of course, I am describing my own experience (Eastern Europe, mid 1970s).

Anonymous said...

Get rid of welfare and pay all kids enough to attend school so that their parents will want them to attend. Base pay for just attending and not being disruptive. If they miss, dock their pay. If they are disruptive kick them out and dock their pay.

Pay bonuses if they do well on standardized tests given by independent testing organizations. Grades in school would only be feedback to help kids and parents gage progress.

Home school wouldn't pay for attennndace but the kids would still get the bonuses, plus an amount equal to the standard yearly base pay if they scored well on the tests.

I expect that there would be a market for "dame" schools, supplemented by computer drill for younger kids.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of welfare and pay all kids enough to attend school so that their parents will want them to attend. Base pay for just attending and not being disruptive. If they miss, dock their pay. If they are disruptive kick them out and dock their pay.

Pay bonuses if they do well on standardized tests given by independent testing organizations. Grades in school would only be feedback to help kids and parents gage progress.

Home school wouldn't pay for attennndace but the kids would still get the bonuses, plus an amount equal to the standard yearly base pay if they scored well on the tests.

I expect that there would be a market for "dame" schools, supplemented by computer drill for younger kids.

Anonymous said...

Dan Kurt - because the draft was not 3 years but 12 years in that region of Germany

12 years, are you sure? I have to say Im really skeptical about that figure, sure you dont mean time in the regular army plus time in the reserves?

starvation inflicted by the Brits and French after the war ended

The blockade during the war certainly caused problems, I'm not aware of it, the blockade, continuing afterwards.

No to Foreign Language said...

Reg,



Language learning is "reading, comprehension, grammar, drill"! This is how all healthy children learn in those years from about 7 to 12, dumber kids for somewhat longer.


Which has nothing at all to say about the value of learning that language. Nothing at all. Why not spend the time drilling something infinitely more practical?


By the time one is in college, the brain has solidified to the point where it probably can't learn a first foreign language at all.

And yet Reg, somehow people with the drive to learn foreign languages in college still manage to learn them. Funny that.

European children learn foreign tongues from a young age, though they've given up Latin for English, presumably to sell more to the Anglo-Saxons.

Fact is, most of them still can't speak it to save themselves, and that's even though learning it has obvious real world benefit. The Dutch and the Scands probably do better because their own languages aren't as drastically different from English. I can read news articles in Spanish quite easily (hold simple conversations and get around in it too); reading Portuguese came very, very easily. Same with them.

Ironically African kids, with their median IQ of 70, get the best elementary schooling in the world. They don't just learn another language, they learn in another language-- French, English, Portuguese, Arabic, Swahili, whatever.

And what exactly has that achieved for them?

Look, if some motivated parents want their kids learning Latin or Greek, fine. Let them do it on their own coin. If it's just a matter of drilling, drilling, drilling -- which I agree that it is -- then it seems perfect for homestudy, perhaps under the gaze of a vigilant parent. No need to exasperate 90% of the population with your wild-eyed schemes though.

Talking about wild-eyed schemes, how about this silly liberal innovation of "Reading Dogs" (http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20090104/LIFE/901040360)?
White liberal woman, whatever will they think of next.

Anonymous said...

"With all respect, ma'am, who is going to pay for that woman to teach the underachievers while she nurses her baby in the sling? That's money being taken out of her husband's paycheck."


Agreed. Nonetheless, if gov't is going to steal the money from her husband, anyway, as we see here, better she get it (back).

Better her child is with her, learning ebonics, than in daycare learning ebonics from unrelated little monsters who are NOT being adequately supervised bored, underpaid daycare workers who do NOT love her child.

Agreed. Ideal is that she raise the kids THEN go to school. Shame to waste menopausal women. They are a source of lots of untapped talent.
Nonetheless, as it currently stands Caucasian women are NOT having kids, because their husbands cannot support them in even modest comfort while they stay home, due to taxation and inflation taxation due to evil gov't spending.

Also, a woman needs an education in case husband gets ill / injured / dies or runs off with another woman, and she must support the family.

Anonymous said...

I am the "ma'am," La Leche League Leader

"With all respect, ma'am, who is going to pay for that woman to teach the underachievers while she nurses her baby in the sling? That's money being taken out of her husband's paycheck."

Because, think about it. Our disgenic welfare policies actually are taking the paychecks from the men and giving the money to the lowest IQ women to have babies, and the children are not even related to the husband.

If Caucasians are to breed enough to survive, we've got to figure ways of triangulating around Obama's wealth-transferrance from productive men to unrelated, low IQ women.

Pardon the double post

Lucius Vorenus said...

Anonymous: As a possessor of such a womb and such an IQ, let me tell you, the pressure to do exactly this thing is brutal, and the worst part is IT DOESN'T EASE UP even after you'd think you'd made it clear you'll be staying home and teaching your own.

Two things:

A) God bless you.

B) You got any single sisters/cousins/friends/acquaintances/etc feeling the itch to make a lotta babies?

silver said...

No, the real problem at UC was that so many students were so woefully unprepared for college. Most had poor reading comprehension, poor writing skills, and little knowledge of anything except recent movies, TV shows, pop music, celebrity gossip and maybe sports.

The most basic academic skills of most undergraduates are appalling, I agree. I find it difficult to understand how any serious learning can take place when even the most lucidly explicated material in textbooks (and today, in comparison to forty years ago, lucid it certainly is) still baffles them. Most of the problems I've "tutored" fellow students in are a matter of simply not understanding the material laid out in front of them in black and white; rarely has it been any arcane stuff. We talk about IQ, IQ, IQ here, but half our troubles could be severely diminished if students could simply read what is written on the effing page -- not what they think is there, what is actually there. I think Tom Wolfe, whose head is certainly not stuck in the mud about heredity, would agree with me here. He's had a great deal to say recently about the effect of literacy on our brains, and thus our behavior.

For what it's worth, I agree with those who recommend screening & streaming from about age 12 or 14, though I do think there should be some common curriculum: lots of non-PC American history and modern world history, lots of grammar exercises and essay writing practice, arithmetic, some basic logic and statistics.

No, I'm talking from about the age of like five, certainly by eight. I can distinctly recall being very aware of who the smarties and dummies were at that age, and that the dummies, especially the talkative ones, were holding us back. (I was similarly intensely aware of who the goodies and the baddies -- the well behaved, and the rebellious, poorly behaved -- were too. Interestingly, the egalitarian in me was evident even then, as it was the baddies who had my sympathies. The journey to racial reality hasn't been an easy one.)

And, oh yes, Drill, baby, drill! Too many teachers think of these skills courses as being like small-pox inoculation: one shot and you're immunized forever against incompetence. Rubbish. Like playing a sport or an instrument, it takes daily practice over a period of years for even the most basic intellectual skills to sink in. Drill, drill, drill. Review, review, review. Over and over again until it sticks.

That's the beauty of streaming from the youngest age. You can drill at the appropriate level. I have a niece who's 13. Lovely girl, very pretty, but decidedly not particularly bright. Her brothers, however, are, and they love to rub this fact in. She does her best to shrug it off but it must hurt to keep hearing it. When she was younger, her father took her to a private tutor who taught her the multiplication tables, most probably by drilling them into her. You should have seen her face as challenged her brother to "times tables races" and beat them. She was quite giddy over it. The instinctive lesson she surely drew from the experience is that she can learn, she's not as "dumb" -- incapable of learning at all -- as her brothers had led her to believe. Imagine all classes similarly aimed at students' abilities. "Multiple intelligences" guff can be quite profitably applied here as a justification for the intellectual separation and as an explanation to students who catch on that other students their age are learning different material.



We might also want to do something to improve the quality of the people who go into public school teaching. Get rid of our faddish education departments and their worthless education degrees. Make prospective teachers learn real subjects like math, instead of "math education". Abolish teachers' unions, which have degenerated into featherbedding rackets for lazy, incompetent people.


You wouldn't necessarily need much better people going into teaching. Just get current teachers (or upcoming teachers) to dispense with 90% of the sensitivity crap they're taught. Tough love is far superior.

Anonymous said...

"For what it's worth, I agree with those who recommend screening & streaming from about age 12 or 14, though I do think there should be some common curriculum: lots of non-PC American history and modern world history, lots of grammar exercises and essay writing practice, arithmetic, some basic logic and statistics.

No, I'm talking from about the age of like five, certainly by eight. I can distinctly recall being very aware of who the smarties and dummies were at that age, and that the dummies, especially the talkative ones, were holding us back"

Exactly. Gifted education -- actually, all special ed -- advocates will tell you, the research shows that early identification is not only possible, it leads to far better outcomes. In a rational world, IQ testing at age 4 is probably ideal.

And of course, some education of teachers to be able to identify misdiagnosed kids and get them into the appropriate level. Few if any teachers get this kind of professional development.

Anonymous said...

We talk about IQ, IQ, IQ here, but half our troubles could be severely diminished if students could simply read what is written on the effing page -- not what they think is there, what is actually there.

I was always amused and appalled during discussion sections when students were asked to summarize the previous week's readings. Usually, the students would sieze on some obviously incidental remark made by the author and mistake it for the entire thesis. The TA at this point would grit his teeth and try not to pull his hair out. And when a student actually managed to correctly summarize the readings, the TA would gasp in astonishment. Really, outside math and the hard sciences, all you had to do to get at least a B+ is understand the assigned readings and be able write grammatically and coherently. Do that and your professors and TAs would fall down in gratitude.

You wouldn't necessarily need much better people going into teaching. Just get current teachers (or upcoming teachers) to dispense with 90% of the sensitivity crap they're taught.

I think you underestimate just how abysmally stupid many high-school teachers really are. Most of them come from the bottom quartile of college graduates--and generally not from good colleges, either.

Anonymous said...

OK which of these two things is more likely?

1. Suddenly everyone will think "I know! Let's send young white women with infants in maya wraps to teach in the HOOD! This is a GREAT IDEA!"

2. Suddenly everyone will think "hey, we sure are throwing a lot of money down a hole. Maybe we should.... not do this!"

I am not saying 2 is likely, just that 1 is impossible.

Reg Cæsar said...

Why not spend the time drilling something infinitely more practical? --No to Foreign Language (a/k/a Horace Mann Jr.)

That's what you progressives have been telling us for 200 years now. "Impractical" 18th-century Americans taught by the classical method could produce a Constitution. 20th-century Americans could no longer read that Constitution!

No need to exasperate 90% of the population with your wild-eyed schemes though. --NtoFL

My "wild-eyed scheme" worked well enough for three millenia. Can you show us your "practical" equivalents of Homer, Virgil, Augustine, Dante, Leonardo, Shakespeare, Jefferson and Goethe?

And what exactly has that [learning in a second language] achieved for them [African schoolchildren? --NtoFL

Living near a major university, I frequently come into contact with African students who are invariably vastly more articulate than their American classmates. The Americans are smarter, but you would never know it. The Africans are getting more bang-for-the-shilling from their elementary education.

Look, if some motivated parents want their kids learning Latin or Greek, fine. Let them do it on their own coin. --NtoFL

And since plumbing, being practical, pays for itself, the argument for doing that "on their own coin" is even stronger.

You keep talking as if the trivium and quadrivium were luxuries of some sort. In 1975, "practical" meant Fortran and COBOL.

Reg Cæsar said...

Why not spend the time drilling something infinitely more practical? --No to Foreign Language (a/k/a Horace Mann Jr.)

That's what you progressives have been telling us for 200 years now. "Impractical" 18th-century Americans taught by the classical method could produce a Constitution. 20th-century Americans could not even read that Constitution!

No need to exasperate 90% of the population with your wild-eyed schemes though. --NtoFL

My "wild-eyed scheme" worked well enough for three millenia. Can you show us your "practical" equivalents of Homer, Virgil, Augustine, Dante, Leonardo, Shakespeare, Jefferson and Goethe?

And what exactly has that [learning in a second language] achieved for them [African schoolchildren? --NtoFL

Living near a major university, I frequently come into contact with African students who are invariably vastly more articulate than their American classmates. The Americans are smarter, but you would never know it. The Africans are getting more bang-for-the-shilling from their elementary education.

Look, if some motivated parents want their kids learning Latin or Greek, fine. Let them do it on their own coin. --NtoFL

And since plumbing, being practical, pays for itself, the argument for doing that "on their own coin" is even stronger.

You keep talking as if the trivium and quadrivium were luxuries of some sort. In 1975, "practical" meant Fortran and COBOL.

Anonymous said...

Best idea? Vouchers, because it could finance lots of little schools experimenting with different approaches (and catering to different types of students). You could set the voucher amount at, say, 10% less than the per-student cost of the local district, so teachers unions would have no basis to whine about "taking funds for public education" -- they'd end up with more funds per kid for every student that went to a voucher school.

With vouchers, Steve could start his own school in Los Angeles. What's the current per-pupil cost in the L.A. Unified District? $10k per kid? I bet Steve could run an effective mini-school for, say, 50 African American kids for $450k per year. Rent space somewhere, hire a couple of ex-drill sergeants for discipline and a couple of teachers, and Steve could pocket the rest as profit.

About this comment, up thread:

"Educational Tax deduction for homeschoolers. They outperform everyone else and should be supported."

Bad idea. Disreputable parents (ghetto) would start claiming that they were homeschooling their kids to get the benefit (which would of course be a refundable tax credit, so even poor people could cash in) while letting their kids walk the street.

- Fred

Dan Kurt said...

re: " Anonymous said...
Dan Kurt - because the draft was not 3 years but 12 years in that region of Germany

12 years, are you sure? I have to say Im really skeptical about that figure, sure you dont mean time in the regular army plus time in the reserves?"

Uncle Charley must of been regular army because he got some kind of small pension during the 1950s from the German Government that my dad said was for his "beer" habit. ( My mother and dad are teetotalers and still alive at age 90. ) As to the 12 years, that is what I remember being told. It may have been for the regular army. At any rate, the family in Germany got my grandfather ( and his bride to be ) out and off to America to avoid some kind of military service circa 1910.

Anonymous said...
"starvation inflicted by the Brits and French after the war ended
The blockade during the war certainly caused problems, I'm not aware of it, the blockade, continuing afterwards."

I found this on Google: The Allied Attempt to Starve Germany in 1919 [www.finalsolution88.com/Starvation1919.htm]

Dan Kurt

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Lucius, all us ladies <3 T99, as was established on the last epic thread.

Anonymous said...


I think you underestimate just how abysmally stupid many high-school teachers really are. Most of them come from the bottom quartile of college graduates--and generally not from good colleges, either.


You're probably right I'm underestimating. I grew up in an overwhelmingly Anglo-Saxon part of Australia in the 80s. I cannot think of one teacher I had who I regarded then as at all incompetent or stupid. Some teachers were certainly better than others, whether at maintaining classroom discipline, presenting the material, or just generally communicating with students, but there isn't one I would today call an idiot. Many could fairly be said to have been outstanding at developing character, often by rigidly enforcing discipline. Such practices have probably fallen by the wayside by now. A friend's wife is a teacher, and if her example is any guide to the ideology motivating today's teaching cadres, God help us all.

Reg,


That's what you progressives have been telling us for 200 years now.


And what's the verdict? Got us to the moon and back didn't it?

"Impractical" 18th-century Americans taught by the classical method could produce a Constitution. 20th-century Americans could not even read that Constitution!

That's a lopsided comparison. The proportion of 20th century Americans who can read must be many times greater than the proportion of 18th century Americans who could. Obviously the 20th century produced plenty of people capable of reading the Constitution -- some probably even capable of improving on it.

My "wild-eyed scheme" worked well enough for three millenia.

Worked well enough for whom? I thought this thread was about educating the masses, not the elites.

Living near a major university, I frequently come into contact with African students who are invariably vastly more articulate than their American classmates.

"Invariably," "vastly" -- sure you're not exaggerating just a bit, Reg? Perhaps if you were referring to their African-American classmates. That I'd buy.


And since plumbing, being practical, pays for itself, the argument for doing that "on their own coin" is even stronger.


It's not either or. Stream kids sufficiently well and some could get a start in trades while in school while others could be taught the classics. All pretty straightforward, really.


You keep talking as if the trivium and quadrivium were luxuries of some sort.


The quadrivium is for some 80-95% of students. What's your geometry and astronomy like today, Reg? Can you play an instrument or even just still read music? Reckon you can get by well enough without it? So can most people.

In 1975, "practical" meant Fortran and COBOL.

And 376,000 other practical skills besides. What's your point? Even if everyone was good enough -- which they are not, not even close -- to go around reciting Virgil to one another -- or posting on Chronicles, hoping for a pat on the head from Fleming or Wilson -- living standards still depend on getting practical work done.

Anonymous said...

Dan Kurt, you may have some points. My information is from my mother who got it from her mother, so it may be subjective. My granddad served on the Russian front and was killed there. Basically officers came from aristocratic/upper class families, but I'm sure they drafted as many ordinary soldiers as they could because by WWI Germany was under existential threat, so they presumably waived class concerns.
I don't think the draft was 12 years. It may have been 5 and not 3 years. I'm not sure. But what happened, even more so in WWII, was that some guys, who almost completed their military service, were kept on alert during the mobilisation periods, which back then could be years, and then served the full period of each war. In that manner some of them ended up being soldiers for a decade.

Anonymous said...

"1. Suddenly everyone will think "I know! Let's send young white women with infants in maya wraps to teach in the HOOD! This is a GREAT IDEA!"

Okay. When you put it like that, yeah, it's a stupid idea.

But the point is still valid. If we Caucasians don't get hold of the culture PDQ and start enabling Affordable Family Formation, well, demographic trends say we'll be a minority in US by 2040. Third world status, here we come.

Putin is PAYING ethnic Russians to make babies. Okay, that won't fly here, but how about nonprofit charitable foundations to give young married couples grants or no interest loans that she can go to work to pay back when the kids are grown?

If it ends up white kids are a minority in the whole country, well....once again, California is showing us the future.

Emma Lazarus said...

I like all the suggestions listed herein regarding methods to produced a decent educational system. It reminds me of when I was seven and my chums and I used to talk about what we'd do when we'd rule the world.

Come on, guys, it's not like there are a bunch of folks sitting around in some office in D.C., searching out the best ideas, testing, filtering, applying. Why would the people running the show want an educated populace? This place is the way it is for a reason. So before you start talking about the best way to run various functions of a country, you need a country that's actually yours...and that time has passed.

rgh said...

Lucius,

As to who makes the the 1-to-1 assignments, ideally it would be the parents in a free marketplace funded by tax credits; since that isn't likely to happen, it would be the same people who do it now - school administrators. How is that worse than school admins assigning kids to teachers now?
And for the "dame school" idea, I don't know how you got young women dedicating themselves to one student out of that. The idea is that a teacher, instead of standing in front of a group of kids trying to teach them all the same thing at the same time would have a smaller group and would spend a little time each day with each kid 1-on-1.

In colonial times most people who weren't taught by their parents were taught by a tutor they spent a few hours per week with. Some women would take in a number of kids and teach them along with their own kids, but it was still tutorial. That was the most literate society the world has ever known (slaves excepted). Contempory estimates of literacy were above 95 percent (how many people today could understand something like Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," a pamphlet read by virtually everyone).

Lucius Vorenus said...

For the record, I made a bunch of replies to this thread [and a few others in this general timeframe] which were either eaten by glitches in the software, or were censored.

Wow - I really would like to see iSteve get moved to a modern forum-based software package - at least then I could see that a reply was deleted by a moderator after it posted successfully [and I wouldn't be left wondering whether Steve was censoring upwards of half of what I tried say].

Anonymous said...

If we Caucasians don't get hold of the culture PDQ and start enabling Affordable Family Formation, well, demographic trends say we'll be a minority in US by 2040.

So what you're saying is if we don't start doing socialism, the socialism will just happen without us?

Who's going to pay for it?

Ronduck said...

Anonymous said...

So what you're saying is if we don't start doing socialism, the socialism will just happen without us?

Who's going to pay for it?


We don't need socialism to enable affordable family formation, we need to end welfare and stop encouraging criminal behavior.

Insignificon said...

The best thing to do would be to burn the public schools down, lower taxes and force parents to pay for their own children's education privately. Let charities help the ones who can't afford it. Teach kids according to their own abilities istead of shoe-horning them all into the same definition of success. Oh, were you looking for ideas that might actually have a chance of happening in this ridiculous world? Sorry. Don't have any.

Homeschooling is my own choice for my kids. Public schools are irredeemable.

Felix said...

here are a few thoughts on math, an area that I know a bit about (math olmpiads, AB, tutoring friends' kids etc)

perhaps the basic problem is teaching stuff that the kids don't need and which is too complex for them

eg 1: some middle level kids will need calculus later on, but you shouldn't waste their time teaching the underpinning theory (limits etc). Let them do this in college if they need to

to make an obvious point, Newton and Leibnitz didn't use this theory - it was discovered about a hundred years later

and, of course, if you teach stuff that is too abstract, you get kids getting despondent and thinking math is too hard

eg 2: set theory. Bright kids find this fun and grasp it very quickly. some others labour over it and find it very difficult

but the point is - you really don't need it unless you're going to do abstract math

so what about middle level, English lit types? Don't give them too many abstractions or symbols. Instead, teach Math as culture, giving an exposure to the history of math and accessible proofs (eg infinity of prime numbers) that illustrate the power of this kind of thinking

and (my favourite gripe) identify those who can really do math and nurture them. Encourage them to do stuff sooner than later. For example, talented kids aged 14 or 15 should be doing calculus. Teaching them together with the middle group just holds them back and wastes a national resource

Anonymous said...

set theory. Bright kids find this fun and grasp it very quickly. some others labour over it and find it very difficult

Oh gawd. That was such a fad when I was in grade school. I never found it particularly difficult, just a silly waste of our time. Really, the most enjoyable math was the stuff that was counterintuitive yet had immediate real-world applications. That's why I enjoyed my college stats/probability classes the most.