Confessions of a Litigious Mind

The random, irrelevant musings of a law school graduate.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

state of the state of the schools

i watch the local news more than i used to. about 98% of it is useless, but every once in a while i pick up something that happened. tonight, the first 9 mins of the news was just going town to town talking about how teachers arent going to be paid, schools will be closing, and ceiling tiles falling on kids' heads.

this is terrible. mortgages, foreclosures, yeah yeah yeah. but now it's fucking with the kids. for the love of god, we cant afford to have worse schools than we already do. people are already stupid enough. we cant let the education of children who have a chance to go straight down the shitter. maybe their retarded parents are lost causes, but the kids arent yet. they may be on their way, but they're not there just yet.

i find it funny that this economic stimulus thing gives out billions of dollars to all sorts of random shit, but there's apparently not enough to pay teachers and keep schools open. teachers should be better than they are now. i think we need more teachers and better educated ones. this will never happen if they're not sure how they will pay teachers after april. soon kids will only be educated enough to sit around and drool on themselves and end sentences in prepositions. where the fuck are our priorities at?


At 2/11/2009 1:06 AM, Blogger IsmaelTapiaII said...

You know, I've been saying for a while that we should sort of write off everyone that's alive right now. We should take all the money that we would use to educate today's children in half-assed schools, and all the money we'd use to keep stupid criminals in jail, and whatever other money we're just blatantly wasting, and put it somewhere. Then, we set a date--say January 1, 2010. Anyone born on or after that date gets the best education possible. We're talking the best teachers, the best technology, the best classrooms, unfettered access to museums, actual work places, whatever.

Yeah, everyone alive right now would be fucked. But right around 2028, things would really start to pick up. And besides, it's not like things can really get much worse when kids are more worried about not getting shot than they are about getting good SAT scores.

At 2/11/2009 7:58 PM, Blogger dicta said...

precisely. if we have idiots educating kids now, the kids dont stand a chance of growing up and becoming anything other than idiots (on the whole). if we can get an incentive to have the best and brightest teaching future generations, we stand to gain a lot more.

most of the people i deal with everyday are morons. i'd hate for my kids or grandkids to have to grow up in a world dealing with their moronic kids and grandkids. of course, that assumes my kids arent taught by idiots.

ahhh nature vs nurture. nature can only take us so far.

At 2/15/2009 12:11 PM, Blogger Holmes said...

Dicta- thanks for the message. I am alive! I feel more alive since Obama was elected as the Hope and Change course through my body.

If we look at spending per pupil, it really has no effect on outcomes. The cities have the highest spending per student in the country and consistently have the worst schools. There was one successful intervention I heard about in Harlem, where they teach new parents how to parent properly. This includes bombarding your 0-3 year old with words and positive statements. This has been shown to have a huge effect and the kids who first went through this did better than national average on test scores. It was previously thought that parental wealth wa the key factor; so really, all we had to do was put the poor kids with the rich kids and voila! However, they found that the number of words and posive ones at that kids were exposed to was really the difference between professional couples with children and other parents. Verbal ability is the limiting factor for digesting other ideas; if you can't read/think, you can't understand math or biology either. Simply paying teachers and schools more money to try and turn around an entire culture seems misguided. By the time a child is in 8th grade, they are pretty much beyond repair. If they cannot read to grade level at that point, they have no chance.

The educational establishment is also run entirely by liberals, by the way. From college academia on down. While I don't think ideas like school vouchers are a panacea, the establishment could stand some diversity in thought. Instead, they march on to the same tune, creating a society of faux liberal arts majors that cannot really think for themselves. But at least they know that Vietnam was bad bad bad and WWII was about putting californian japanese people in camps and to have high self-esteem (even when it's not warranted).

The Holmes Plan: Two tiers of schools. We fist duplicate the Harlem intervention discussed above nationally. Still, some will not make it in the traditional academic fields (not that this makes them a failure necessarily, more on that shortly), and by 8th grade, we can see who will or will not. So, 8th grade, we split into the academic group and nonacademic. Academic- rigorous high school with "majors" instead of the traditional liberal arts, focusing on strengths (which at this point are readily identifiable). "But Holmes, what about choice?" That is what college is for. Suck it, this is my plan. Nonacademic group- basically basic citizenship, life skills, and learning a trade. Look, college isn't for everyone, and it's a waste to think otherwise. But college now is like remedial high school for like half the population that attends, so it doesn't make any sense- it's just degree inflation.

Now, the last part of the Holmes plan is schools for the bad kids. Basically the bad kids poison the rest of the environment. We think "Hey, we can't give up on children! It's not their fault!" It's not their fault, but it's not fair to the other kids as well who are sort of on the fence. The bad kids go to a quasi-military academy school- these are national schools, by the way, removed from parents and their normal surroundings. I'll pick the badlands of south dakota as one of the sites. Here they receive intensive (and expensive) counseling, discipline, etc. It will cost a lot, but far less than prisons. And please, let's not talk about rights of parents, etc. The parents had a shot and they couldn't do anything. Sorry, for 5 years, their ass belongs to the state. At 18, they can go out into the world again. Of course the standard for what is a "bad kid" needs to be fairly high, so it's not just lazy teachers who want to put all kids on ritulin saying "Yeah, can't deal with him/her, off they go."

Simply paying teachers and schools more money to continue the same system (just more expensively) is not going to work at all. We need schools that can accommodate all of the tiers of people (yes, there is a bell curve) and maximize what we get from each segment. Right now we are trying to fit all tiers into the middle 50%, and it's hurting everyone. The lower tiers don't get the attention they need, the upper tiers are kept down, and it lowers even the quality that the middle 50 % receive.

This message has been approved by Holmes. Holmes: solving America's problems one stroke of genius at a time.

At 2/19/2009 10:01 PM, Blogger Holmes said...

Oh yeah, and year-round schooling. Studies show poorer kids almost catch up to middle class kids by the end of a school year, but lose ground over the summer due to lack of mental stimulation.

Holmes/Santelli 2012

At 2/19/2009 11:47 PM, Blogger dicta said...

haha well i certainly appreciate the thought you put in, even if i dont completely agree.

and i did probably over simplify by suggesting just throwing more money into education would increase its quality (as an alternate example you might look to the iraq war or bailing out banks). i would argue for stricter standards that must be met before one can become a teacher. low salaries and often poor working conditions force some better qualified candidates away. and while it is of course by no means universal, oftentimes people who become teachers do so because they can't do much else. of course there are those who have a passion for it and those who are very smart and it's a great role for them. everyone (almost) has had someone they would consider a great teacher. but as i look back thru high school and college, i look at a lot of the people i know who became teachers and just think to myself, "well shit, my kid's not going there."

At 2/24/2009 9:57 PM, Blogger Holmes said...

I guess I just don't see the school systems failing because of the dearth of talented teaching. If you can't read a text book by the 8th grade, you're lost, and Super Teacher can't help you regardless, even if we could lure such a person away from a higher paying field.


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