Tell me about American schools

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  • #26
BobG
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I finally watched the whole video. I have to say that I disagree with the closing statements of one of the teachers. Competition between schools would definetly improve the quality of education, which is the point the show was trying to make.

russ, then if the prices are so high, they're definetly getting ripped off along with the students.

How do you figure about the competition?

Competition doesn't make the local corner grocery store with high prices better. The high prices lure in a bigger, more efficient store into the neighborhood. Competition drives the local corner grocery store with high prices out of business.

That's fine for customers because we're only going to spend our money in one place. Probably the place that gives the best quality for the least amount of money.

With schools, what you're actually suggesting is that we spend money for two schools in one neighborhood, one of which we'll later close because it isn't as efficient as the other. But then, the remaining school could become inefficient with no competition, so we open another school and close the least efficient.

Competition doesn't work if you're spending your money on both the winner of the competition and the loser.

It also ignores the most important aspect of the equation. Everyone is paying for the public schools whether they send their kid to a private school or not. What benefit is it to us to give people back their money just because they happen to have enough money to support both a public school and a private school?

School vouchers and competition may be fair to those sending their kids to private schools, but reducing the amount of money spent on education isn't likely to improve it.
 
  • #27
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I don't know how people think but policies to decorate school gates to draw attraction from old parents to young kids are pretty disappointing many people and I personally find it just completely makes things worse and worse especially when the consequences of what comes next are always poorly grasped by the schools'headers themselves; to the ousiders with careless behaviors, colorful gates might possibly be loved most but to the insiders, I am sure you can guess how they have a feel for them.
 
  • #28
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How do you figure about the competition?

...

With schools, what you're actually suggesting is that we spend money for two schools in one neighborhood, one of which we'll later close because it isn't as efficient as the other. But then, the remaining school could become inefficient with no competition, so we open another school and close the least efficient.

Competition doesn't work if you're spending your money on both the winner of the competition and the loser.

But people are greedy, and I'm sure the teachers would realize if their jobs were at stake, they have to improve the ability of their students. If one school ended up with a monoply because it was the best in the area and all the others closed, it's likely another school would open if it became unsatisfactory.
 
  • #29
ShawnD
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Competition doesn't work if you're spending your money on both the winner of the competition and the loser.

Not entirely sure about this one. Schools in Edmonton get funding based on grades, and the competition seems to work nicely. The schools start to specialize and people pick their school based on what fits their needs/wants. Examples in Edmonton:
Victoria Composite is a very artsy school,
Austin O'brien seems to be oriented around sports,
St Joseph is for individual self-pace learning,
Archbishop MacDonald is for honors students (think of it like a publicly funded private school),
St. Francis Xavier is a high school where you can speak French all the time.
My school, O'Leary, was just a generic school with no real specialty. We had smart, we had stupid, we had sports, we had a pool, we had nerds, we had boys, and we had girls. If you're not entirely sure whether you're smart or not, into sports or not, or even a man or not; O'Leary is the school for you :biggrin:


Instead of competing to be the best at everything (as you are suggesting), the schools cater to a niche market and get funding based on that group of people. It's similar to how universities work. When you think MIT you think science; engineering and physics in particular. When you think Stanford, you probably think of doctors and medical research.
 
  • #30
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student school size is huge, probably 2000 at least.

thats actually a very small school over here
 
  • #31
BobG
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Not entirely sure about this one. Schools in Edmonton get funding based on grades, and the competition seems to work nicely. The schools start to specialize and people pick their school based on what fits their needs/wants. Examples in Edmonton:
Victoria Composite is a very artsy school,
Austin O'brien seems to be oriented around sports,
St Joseph is for individual self-pace learning,
Archbishop MacDonald is for honors students (think of it like a publicly funded private school),
St. Francis Xavier is a high school where you can speak French all the time.
My school, O'Leary, was just a generic school with no real specialty. We had smart, we had stupid, we had sports, we had a pool, we had nerds, we had boys, and we had girls. If you're not entirely sure whether you're smart or not, into sports or not, or even a man or not; O'Leary is the school for you :biggrin:


Instead of competing to be the best at everything (as you are suggesting), the schools cater to a niche market and get funding based on that group of people. It's similar to how universities work. When you think MIT you think science; engineering and physics in particular. When you think Stanford, you probably think of doctors and medical research.

In the town I grew up in, the city tried a similar plan. Schools didn't exactly compete against each other - the city decided to invest in specific programs at each school. Two of the schools had excellent programs - one had top notch facilities for auto mechanics and a great auto mechanics program and the other specialized in pre-engineering and pre-medical. The other six schools specialized, but their programs weren't particularly notable.

The motivation for this was to escape mandatory bussing designed to equalize the distribution of blacks/whites in each school. The school specializing in pre-med/pre-engineering was located in the more well-to-do section of town and had 6 black students out of around 1500 students. The 'target school' plan doubled their black population to 12.

Unfortunately, the plan didn't pass muster with the affirmative action crowd and you saw school competition in action. People with money moved to the suburbs. Instead of their property tax money being distributed to all schools, including the minority neighborhoods, their money wound up being focused on the single school in their suburb. Schools in the suburbs went from average quality to very good quality. The quality of the pre-med/pre-engineering school dropped to a little above average, while the quality of the other six schools dropped to poor (only six because the university in town bought the auto mechanics school and started offering an associate degree in auto mechanics).

Granted, the whole area has had a depressed economy with population steadily decreasing for the last 25 years, so there's a lot more to the declining quality of the city's schools than just policy. The key to the quality of education is having money to invest in it and investing the money wisely.

Usually, the money has to come first. Saying, "Earn an A or get no dinner" eventually makes the population smarter, but only because a lot of the dumb people starve to death.
 
  • #33
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All I have to say is, US schools are probably much different than schools over seas. While US students do score low on tests compared to the rest of the world, the US undoubtedly still produces some of the finest scientists in the world.

Other nations simply don't have the the racial and social diversity like the US which makes educating our kids much much much more difficult.
 
  • #34
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no doubt re the finest scientists as we still have the best universities overall, and fund a lot of research--
but my guess is the number of nobel laureates--US born and educated--will decline. I don't know about the second claim, depends a lot. I think to some extent the students aren't working nearly as hard as their foreign counterparts, and the expectations so minimal for passing, combined with large number of distractions is the major reason for piss poor test results.
 
  • #35
BobG
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no doubt re the finest scientists as we still have the best universities overall, and fund a lot of research--
but my guess is the number of nobel laureates--US born and educated--will decline. I don't know about the second claim, depends a lot. I think to some extent the students aren't working nearly as hard as their foreign counterparts, and the expectations so minimal for passing, combined with large number of distractions is the major reason for piss poor test results.
There was a time when playgrounds had huge merry-go-rounds. The kind with spokes that went out from the hub and most of the mass, especially with a playground full of kids riding, was located at the rim.

With a few dads, you could get those things really moving and it held its speed forever. Then, when around half the kids started crawling along the spokes towards the hub, the kids remaining on the rim got the ride of their life. Once in a while, the skinny little girl with the straggly dishwater blond hair would fly off and break an arm, but that was okay. She could always grow up to be a librarian.

The danger lay in falling off of the spoke as you were crawling toward the middle. The available options would go flying through your head. If you stood up, would one of the spokes just give you a concussion or would it knock your head clear off? If you aligned yourself parallel to the rim and kept your legs closed as you rolled out of the middle, how many times would you get kicked and how bad would it hurt?

Of course, they don't have those types of merry-go-rounds, anymore. They're not considered safe. Merry-go-rounds only have solid metal plates extending from the hub and they're small and designed to spin incredibly slow. Moms want all of their kids to live - even the dumb ones.

The result is that kids have lost that 'Learn physics or die!' mentality.
 
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  • #36
ShawnD
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The result is that kids have lost that 'Learn physics or die!' mentality.

It's funny because it's true. :biggrin:
A lot of things used to be dangerous, and people would just learn how to use them properly.
 
  • #37
BobG
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It's funny because it's true. :biggrin:
A lot of things used to be dangerous, and people would just learn how to use them properly.

I usually to seemed to learn quickest by using something improperly. I always work best under pressure. :rofl:
 
  • #38
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we have somewhat similar problem in israel, with teacher's unions craving for money(though here we dont get anything close to what american children get), though lately they started to fire lots of teachers...

i dont really understand why it is believed that money can solve anyting, its all about the teachers!
in high school i had wonderful teachers which probably dont get payed even close to those in america. the teachers i had liked what they taught, and liked to teach.
though when it came to prepare for a test it was all different, time was spent not on debating(which we had a lot when the test was far) but on rushing on going through all the material in a way that it will be forgotten once the test is over. which brings to think how stupid it is to make schools compete each other by grades, and survive or thrive by grades.

its just wrong.. to make education to a grade market... though i do agree that is should be easier to fire teachers, but it should be estimated not by grades, but by some administrative who knows his people.

heh, my history teacher was shouting her teachings so much until she had a medical problem with her voice, which then led her to wear a device to amplify her voice as she talks quietly. my physics teacher brought weird toys from his home which were related to mechanics. a lot of teachers gave us beyond what they were meant to give, and thats what a good teacher is...

(btw, most schools here suck, the universities say that all they get is raw material, needed to be taught all over again. its good though that universities here have high standards)

(another btw, as for my own learning i dont believe in high school, they may create curiosity but the only things i remember vividly, are the things i learned by myself alone, also i had 3 math courses in the university, i learned it all by myself. its not that im not bragging or anything, i just cant learn anything by watching someone talk, books are much more useful...)
 
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  • #39
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my favorite teacher was a sub, he would not talk down, when you had a conversation he would not side step touchy issues and he didn't stop explaining until the class understood and could explain back, the way he did it was engrossing and he had the respect of all the kids.

mr. pearson :P

the worst were the yes, no, next types who hated working with kids but loved the fact that they had the summers off and could only be fired with an act of god.


i'd have my kids attend a public school but also have some home schooling to reinforce/enhance their education, what passes for high school from what i've seen will leave your kid struggling once they hit college, myself as an example, i shouldn't need years of prep if it was done right the first time.
 
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  • #40
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we have somewhat similar problem in israel, with teacher's unions craving for money(though here we dont get anything close to what american children get), though lately they started to fire lots of teachers...

i dont really understand why it is believed that money can solve anyting, its all about the teachers!
/(QUOTE]

exactly my point. I had maybe three or four good teachers from K to 12, and lots more afterwards. It is a gift, that is most obvious here on this forum, where if you spend time in the trenches see plenty of examples on a monthly basis where the most adroit and detailed explanations fall on deaf ears. There is a special skill that allows the moderator/helper to hear the source of uncertainty, and zoom in on it, and the subsequent aha! Then there is the occasional thread that 40 posts out would wear the patience of a saint.

People learn differently, this has been demonstrated time and time again. It seems to me instead of focusing so much attn on test results and trying to find the right level, more emphasis should be placed on determining how a student learns most efficiently, and mating not so much by ability as by learning style, and allowing enuf flexibility in pace to allow the individual to be all s/he can be. We all remamber special teachers I'm sure, but my point is I guess that even if we all had the same, we'd disagree on who was most special. That we don't fund research to a sufficient extent is appaling, esp as we fall into the abyss of mediocrity. And yes, teachers should be paid more, a lot more, so the good ones don't go onto other fields, whether engineering, law, or medicine. I mean what is the most important task but to teach your children well.
 
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