April 9, 2010

How did Wisconsin do in the "Race to the Top" (Race for the Money) competition?

We were 26th out of 41. Why did we score so low?
... [T]he criticisms portray Wisconsin as a state fragmented in disagreements about how to improve education and lacking a sense of urgency — urgency that should have been highlighted by the state's recent dead-last ranking in reading among black fourth graders....
The state was downgraded in its first application because only about 10 percent of district-level union leaders signed on. The winning states both had more than 90 percent of union leaders on board. 
Is the Obama administration out to crush unions? Mickey Kaus doesn't think so.

68 comments:

TosaGuy said...

WI teachers unions already got theirs when the last state budget killed the QEO. Why sign on to something that may threaten that.

MadisonMan said...

WI has better things to do re: Education than to chase after federal monies. (I wonder how much was wasted in this futile attempt).

The Legislature should change how schools are funded. That is the number one problem (on the money side) with K-12 Education in Wisconsin today. Federal dollars will not fix it.

traditionalguy said...

You were cheated. Demand a recount. Better yet, elect a Republican Senator that can use clout that Feingold obviously does not have.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Wisconsin placed as low as it did because the team that completed the Race To The Top application were all graduates of the Milwaukee Public School system.

Maguro said...

Throwing money at inner city schools does nothing to improve student performance, the Kansas City fiasco already established that.

And the editorial's plan to send the state's best teachers to the worst schools sounds like a terrible idea. Ultimately, it will just drive the best performers out of public schools altogether and into other careers or private schools.

bagoh20 said...

People who attended school in the 19th century came out better educated. How did they do that with no money, no union, no credentials, no education academia or industry, no Dept. of Education, and no "race to the top"?

MadisonMan said...

People who attended school in the 19th century came out better educated.

Nonsense.

They could read, and write, and sometimes do arithmetic. Could they program a computer? Do linear algebra? Type? Throw pottery? Swim? Speak a language different from the one spoken at home?

chuckR said...

The idea that you can engage and trust teacher's union leaders is ludicrous, at least in RI.

Here's a video of the Central Falls RI superintendent who BHO mentioned a while back. Actually part II and worth a few minutes to watch to understand her motivation, starting about the 4 minute mark. You'd need to watch both parts of her talk to find out just how the union leadership mugged her and sabotaged the legally mandated plan they had agreed to up until the last possible moment.

MayBee said...

Amid all the hoopla about Ayers as terrorist, and lies about Obama's relationship with him (from the Obama camp), the failure of Obama's ideas on educational reform via the CAC was lost.

It is worth revisiting now that Obama wants to manipulate states with federal funding. Prof Steve Diamond gives a good review at his global labor-centric blog.

Pastafarian said...

Here you go, Madison Man – an 8th grade civics test from 1954.

Please let me know what grade you get. I’m sure you’ll ace it, as you’re a product of today’s much more rigorous educational system.

Pastafarian said...

But I bet little Kenny Hignite couldn't throw pottery worth a fuck.

chuckR said...

(Could people who attended 19th century schools)Speak a language different from the one spoken at home?

Why yes. At the turn of the 20th century, my grandmother and great aunt were taught French and how to speak with both Norman and Parisian accents. They also had some German, but that went by the boards as a consequence of Wilson's Sedition Act. Their school was a Catholic girl's high school, the one my wife graduated from some 60 years later. Even today with a largely secular teaching staff, this school still is cost competitive with public schools and provides a better product.

Pastafarian said...

Christ, Latin and Greek were once taught to all secondary students.

As much as we hate to sound like old fogies saying something about "these kids these days" just not being as tough or smart as kids were in our day....it doesn't change the fact that it's true.

An 8th grade education from 1900 is roughly the equivalent of a modern high school education. A high school diploma from 1900 is pretty much equivalent to a bachelor's degree today. We've dumbed things down and inflated grades to the point that we're producing people so monumentally stupid and illiterate that they think that islands can capsize, and that small variations in trace gases in the atmosphere can drive climate, and that money can be saved by insuring 30 million more people.

Welcome to Idiocracy. Instead of President Camacho, we have President Obama. Or is that racist of me? Lawgivers!!! Landru!! I am not of the body!!

MadisonMan said...

Am I smarter than an 8th-grader, is that what you're asking? Do I get to study for a night before taking the test?

20-29, those are pretty easy. Listing the Amendments? That's harder, I tend to get them out of order, kind of like the Ten Commandments. #52-100 are pretty much gimmes, although #98 and 100 are pretty subjective. I'd have to remind myself of the Preamble. I see no reason to think my daughter's friends couldn't pass this test.

As far as programming, plenty of kids at my daughter's High School take the class on it at school. Many of them are multi-lingual, with respect to both spoken and computer languages.

Kids are actually very smart today.

(Am I the only one who did a google search Kenneth Hignite to see what he's up to today?)

Pastafarian said...

MadMan: "I see no reason to think my daughter's friends couldn't pass this test."

Your daughter associates with kids much brighter than those that I interview for jobs. I guarantee that if you gave this test to all high school students today, 50% would score less than 50% on this test; and the average grade would be somewhere around 60%, and only that high because of the gimme questions.

And if you did the same thing with 1954 EIGHTH GRADERS, maybe 10% would score less than 50%, and the average would be somewhere around 80% -- a C in those days, now almost universally a B- -- back when C meant "average" by definition.

bagoh20 said...

That movie "Idiocracy" assumed we would breed ourselves into stupidity, but it's actually happening through political activism, union demands and education professionals who insist that education at all levels must be as complicated as medicine with an equal level of constant experimentation, but without respect for the scientific method.

MadisonMan, I have no doubt that the school you are familiar with does a great job, but that is the exception. The high school nearest to me graduates less than half it's students and most of those who do graduate need remedial classes to enter any college.

But that's only half the problem, the rest is that we pay an enormous amount of money for this poor performance and the education profession insists that more money is the cure. Places where this profession is powerful politically are the places with the poorest outcomes. That indicates to me what a large part the problem is.

LarsPorsena said...

MM:

"...Do linear algebra? .."

You're kidding? I don't know any recent college grads that can do that unless they are in the sciences and engineering.

My mother is 83 and only had two years of high school and my father is 92 and a HS graduate. Their level of learning and literacy shames most recent college grads.
And in addition, they can tear down an engine, re-plumb a house,
tailor a suit or wedding dress,...
and everything else Pasta said above.

You've set your bar too low.

chuckR said...

MM - your question should be - Am I more educated than a 19th century 8th grader? And in what ways?

It's a problem determining what is worth studying and knowing. How many pecks in a bushel? Is what surveyor Geo. Washington knew worth knowing - how many rods in a chain, chains in a mile?

Technical methods have a pretty short useful life and I don't care that my kids don't understand the geometric basis of a slide rule or many other things I was taught. I am a lot more upset that each succeeding generation understands less of our system of government and it's philosophical underpinnings. The Zinnification of history is a disaster.

Oh, and congratulations on your good fortune in the schools your children attend.

wv: crylh - semi-phonetic spelling of a favorite food of baleen whales

c3 said...

sorry but the link took me to a page regarding the Race to the Top and on the sidebar was one of the sausages from Miller Park on opening day.

So many Monty Python thoughts came to my head that I couldn't stand it.

(great Monty Python "races" here, here,and here)

MadisonMan said...

Oh, and congratulations on your good fortune in the schools your children attend.

There's a reason I moved back to WI. Schools where we lived out east were crap. That's the beauty of this country. Don't like something? You can move to where things work.

IOW, Good Fortune had nothing to do with it. It was a choice my wife and I made.

c3 said...

And here's an example of Tea Party violence in Wisconsin.

bagoh20 said...

"Don't like something? You can move to where things work."

They call that flyover country.

Michael said...

MadisonMan: There is nothing more aggravating to lefties than the fact that, for the moment at least, we can vote with our feet. That is one of the principal reasons they hate the suburbs: they were created because people refused to pay for services that weren't provided in the cities. So, the cities annex. And the people hop out another ring. Then, they pop back into the inner city and take over blighted areas and the city whines because the areas are now too expensive for the poor. Fun to watch.

David said...

In other words, the unions have the power to torpedo any application.

Pastafarian--that's a tough test. Most of what's on that test is not taught in 8th grade now. In fact, take that test to a random group of frosh at "elite" colleges. They will struggle.

reader_iam said...

Why would a baseball player whack a sausage racer?!?

David said...

Re: education in the 19th century.

My grandfather, born in 1885, left school to go to work at age 14. He was educated in Detroit public schools until then. He eventually became President of a large construction company. Said his education in Detroit public schools gave him the base he needed.

His wife left school after 8th grade to work in a boarding house. She was an intelligent reader, a whiz at math.

My other grandfather "finished" high school in a one room school house in about 1903. He was a New Englander from a very small town in Connecticut. He had an amazing knowledge of American history, among other things. Owned a general store.

His wife started school in what is now Pleasant Point, N.J., moved to NYC (Harlem) with her family in about 6th grade and then moved to Connecticut. She eventually went to the same little school my grandfather had gone to--but a few years later. Never got a diploma. Had to work. She was a lucid and articulate woman, a "reader" at her Christian Science church and bookkeeper at the family general store. She loved geography and knew where every place was, but she rarely travelled more than 50 miles from her town.

Their education consisted of good teachers, clear and high expectations, hard work and accountability. It worked.

Calypso Facto said...

MM: Funny how your kids shake up (or make you remember?)your priorities, isn't it? I moved back to WI from CA for the same reasons (plus drive-by violence avoidance, etc.)

Race to the Top has always been a complete befuddlement to me. Why would we think a Federal agency can run our schools better than a local school board? Why would we think sending money to the Federal bureaucracy to disburse to the state bureaucracy to disburse to the local schools would be better than paying locally for local benefits? Obviously, 10 years living bi-coastally wasn't enough to edumacate me fully in these weighty matters.

chuckR said...

There's a reason I moved back to WI. Schools where we lived out east were crap. That's the beauty of this country. Don't like something? You can move to where things work.


Strange, some of the local unionistas urge us to stay and fight. The game is rigged, though, and it's them we're fighting. I'm here only because starting out there were three places in the country for my field - LA, Pittsburgh and Providence.

I don't know if there are studies, but I suspect that you can often tell the overall level of public school suckitude by the number and quality of local private schools. We have lots of high quality private schools.

I notice that your nom de blog is madisonman, not milwaukeeman ;} Unfortunately, there's a whole lot more people stuck in Milwaukee than fortunate enough to live in Madison.

c3 said...

Why would a baseball player whack a sausage racer?!?

racism (pun intended)

howzerdo said...

I'm not sure a comparison between high school graduates today and in the past can be made. Few went to public (or private) high school in the 19th Century. Those who did studied a classical college preparatory curriculum. The educational ladder started to expand in the late 19th/early 20th Centuries, but even 100 years ago, less than 9 percent of 17-year-olds were high school graduates.

themightypuck said...

The problem with schools is completely obvious, difficult to fix, and has almost nothing to do with teachers.

bagoh20 said...

"The problem with schools is completely obvious, difficult to fix, and has almost nothing to do with teachers."

They sure don't help. They never go on strike to protest poor student results, but just try affecting paychecks, benefits or work load and you got yourself a bunch of activists and quite serious ones.

The result is lots more money, but the only improvement is in pay, and benefits for the education professionals.

bagoh20 said...

Politicians and unions use teachers as foot soldiers in the political battles for money and power. The teachers are willing since they basically are rewarded when the politicians and unions win. Everyone gets more, except the students and taxpayer who get hosed.

Sure there are social reasons too for a lot of students not learning, but they cannot be overcome when the people who need to push students get rewarded without doing so.

Maguro said...

@bagoh - Do states with non-union public school teachers perform notably better than states with unionized teachers? I don't think they do.

The real issue is that a school's overall performance on standardized tests has almost nothing to do with the quality of the teachers and almost everything to do with the quality of the students.

Revenant said...

Here you go, Madison Man – an 8th grade civics test from 1954.

It has, admittedly, been a long time since I was in 8th grade. But I'm almost positive that 1954 wasn't in the 19th century. :)

Revenant said...

Have you ever read some of the letters home from working-class enlisted men in the Civil War? There's not even any comparison between their degree of literacy, and that of graduating seniors today.

First of all, the illiteracy rate in 1870 was twenty times higher than it is today.

Secondly, you should consider that the Civil War letters that get included in popular Civil War histories tend to be the well-written ones. This is the same phenomenon that makes the movies of the 1930s seem to be of so much higher average quality than the stuff today -- the worthless crap that comprised 95% of studio output has been lost or forgotten.

Finally, "education" isn't an absolute term. Written language was much more important in the 19th century than it is today. We don't write long letters anymore, so the ability to write a long letter is only marginally more useful than the ability to juggle.

Penny said...

Why would people, particularly conservatives, have a problem with more being pushed out and down to the state level? It just seems obvious that states have their own unique education problems, that are better solved at the state, if not the local, level.

The unions need to be involved in order to be a part of the solutions, many of which will involve changes for their membership.

This seems like a good plan to me. States with strong unions are not likely to make the kinds of dramatic changes that are necessary. Now there will be a price tag associated with that lack of compromise. Unions, as well as the politicians who support them, will have some fun times explaining the loss of significant federal funds to the taxpayers who will be forced to make up the difference.

Revenant said...

Do states with non-union public school teachers perform notably better than states with unionized teachers? I don't think they do.

What do you mean by "states with non-union public school teachers"? All states have some public-school teachers who do not belong to unions, but union members are a majority of public school teachers in all states.

David said...

Revenant said...

First of all, the illiteracy rate in 1870 was twenty times higher than it is today.

Nice one, Revenant.

According to the Census Bureau, the adult illiteracy rate in 1870 was 20%. This included African-Americans, whose illiteracy rate was 79% because of their systematic exclusion from schooling.

So unless you believe that the current American illiteracy rate is one percent, you are wrong again.

Revenant Ignorance Rate: 97.8%.

David said...

Revenant, your comments here show how deeply ignorant you really are. American literacy rates among whites have been 90% plus since before the Civil War. Universal and effective education, even without public schools, has been a hallmark of the country since early colonial times.

One of our great national marks of shame is the exclusion of African Americans from education for hundreds of years. In spite of this there was even a cadre of literate people among slaves. Read the autobiography of Fredrick Douglass for an example of how it was done. After the end of slavery, African American literacy increased dramatically in spite of segregation and continued exclusion from education. It's one of the nation's great untold stories. The African Americans did it the same way that whites did before schooling was universal--home schooling.

A literate population has always been one of the major hallmarks and assets of America. You are making things up when you argue otherwise.

bagoh20 said...

"nothing to do with the quality of the teachers and almost everything to do with the quality of the students."

Then why do we keep paying more to get "better teachers"? Let's just buy better students.

But seriously, I don't know where good quality students come from, but unless they are born that way, they learned from someone. There have always been bad parents (if that's your drift) and they used to be almost entirely uneducated and rural. Yet we managed to educate more of them better and better for a time. That has reversed.

And it would be interesting to know if states with non-unionized teachers do better, assuming other factors are equal. My bet is they do, since unions have interests often at odds with students. Lets say we want to fire bad teachers and pay according to results. It's hard to argue that's not better for students, but we know where unions will come down on it. The choice will be no or strike. That has to equal poorer education. Yet unions fight hard to increase costs: pay, benefits, and smaller class sizes.

Unions reduce efficiency and effectiveness wherever they exist. It's really their purpose: to get more for members and ask less of them in return, while preventing any better system from replacing them.

PatCA said...

Apparently, Wisconsinites are taking care of themselves.

Racists!

Lisa said...

The education was better at the beginning of the 20th century? Ha. Education is always a function of where you live and who/what your parents are.

When my father's parents were small, school ended at the 8th grade in their little mill town. In fact, only one of my four grandparents had any education after 8th grade. They could read, write and do basic arithmetic. They knew about gardening, weather, and caring for (some) animals.

My middle school students are almost 80 years younger. They can (well, not all of them but most) solve linear equations, use the Pythagorean Theorem and solve quadratics. They know about plants, animals, mechanics, chemistry, electricity, waves and more.

Comparing today's youth to students of 100 years ago is like comparing apples to carrots.

bagoh20 said...

"First of all, the illiteracy rate in 1870 was twenty times higher than it is today."

The point is that the ones who did go to school got better educated.

Maybe that's the problem, education seems poorer because we attempt to educate those who in the past would not have gained much, so went to work instead. Except that we know that virtually none of our current 8th graders are asked to pass a test like that in 1954. If we don't ask any of them to, how many will develop the ability without being taught.

I think we are looking for cop-outs because we know we are failing due to a combination of our own weakness and blind acceptance of poor ideas, unchallenged.

dick said...

Revenant,

Could not disagree with you more. The writing of a long letter is the basis for writing a long set of instructions. You need to express yourself so that the recipient/user understands what you are saying. Try to read the instructions for using any computer system or any other reasonably complicated piece of equipment. Based on the ones I read in my over 40 years in the field, they are pitiful to b blunt. The ability to write understandable sentences should be the minimum requirement for any graduate of a school.

My father had to quit school in the 10th grade and he made a good career for himself, ending up owning his own business and quadrupling the annual turnover within 8 years. My mother was a college grad, Phi Beta Kappa, but with no experience of business. And yet she was able to create an accounting system to keep the books when they first bought the business by just guessing the things she would need to know. When they got more successful and turned the books over to the accountants, she spent 2 days explaining what she had and how she did it and the accountant said she was right to the penny in all her books.

She grew up in rural Colorado and Davenport, Iowa and studied English, German and French in grade school and by the time she graduated college she could teach Russian, German, Italian, Spanish, French, English and Greek and Latin as well as other courses including math. Her father was a silver miner and her mother had a 3rd grade education in rural Arkansas. Someone back then certainly did the teaching. Can you imagine many of our schools today producing someone who could do all that and it not being an honor school? She attended public high school in a small city in central Ohio. I just wish I had had the basic education she got back then. For certain the kids a regular public schools today don't get even 20% of the education she got then.

The other thing that both my parents got from their schooling was a love of learning. Neither one ever stopped learning and paying attention to what was going on. That is another element that seems to be missing from education today.

bagoh20 said...

"They can (well, not all of them but most) solve linear equations, use the Pythagorean Theorem and solve quadratics. They know about plants, animals, mechanics, chemistry, electricity, waves and more."

And I know many who can't calculate the 9.75% sales tax on the things they buy every day.

Lisa said...

Bagoh20,

Are you suggesting I strike and that will make parents check their kids homework, make their kids do their homework, feed their kids something healthy every day, put their kids to bed at a reasonable hour, and read to their kids?

bagoh20 said...

But, they do all know that the Earth can be saved from a scorching fever through recycling of cans and bottles and the Prius.

Oh, and that Republicans are rich, racist businessmen and the Democrats are for the little guy.

David said...

Baghot said: "The point is that the ones who did go to school got better educated. "

He's making it up, B. Kids got educated at home, in churches, in schools, everywhere. They hungered for it. The standards were higher. If there was no teacher in a community, they went out and found one. (Read bio. of Andrew Jackson.) Their families taught them. (Abraham Lincoln.) They taught themselves. (Fredrick Douglass)

90% literacy in 1840. This was the norm.

bagoh20 said...

"Are you suggesting I strike and that will make parents check their kids homework, make their kids do their homework, feed their kids something healthy every day, put their kids to bed at a reasonable hour, and read to their kids?"


I am suggesting that of all the strikes teachers have gone on, that none of them had any of those aims, but only more money and easier work. You can blame the parents and they can blame you back and the result is right where we are. high cost low results. But you are the professionals, they passed no test to become parents, just like in the past.

If you are a good teacher and confident of that, you should be demanding merit pay and firing of bad teachers, and removal of counterproductive methods, subjects and regulations, many of which unionized teachers have striked to install and protect.

Maguro said...

All states have some public-school teachers who do not belong to unions, but union members are a majority of public school teachers in all states.

Well, I don't know about all the other 49 states, but Georgia doesn't have a teacher's union. There are some voluntary teachers associations, but GA public school teachers are not unionized in any meaningful sense of the word.

bagoh20 said...

Of those who disagree with me: one says the literacy rate was 20 times lower and another says 90%,

and I'm "making it up"?

Revenant said...

According to the Census Bureau, the adult illiteracy rate in 1870 was 20%.

Correct so far.

This included African-Americans, whose illiteracy rate was 79% because of their systematic exclusion from schooling.

Also correct. The illiteracy rate for whites was 11.4%.

So unless you believe that the current American illiteracy rate is one percent, you are wrong again.

According to UNESCO and the CIA World Factbook, the literacy rate for the United States is 99%. I'll leave it to you to subtract 99% from 100% and determine the resulting illiteracy rate. :)

bagoh20 said...

This union issue may not be a big one everywhere, but in most large cities, it has produced ridiculous results at very high cost. Other places may have different problems, but they don't generally cost a lot on top of it.

bagoh20 said...

Ok, very sly, so the literacy rate stuff mathematic does work out, but the 20 times improvement was going from 80% to 99% in 140 years, not a big improvement considering all the changes and expense in that time. I'm not interested in even arguing what literacy means. It really effects none of the points here.

My points still stand: Graduates are less well prepared for their world today by a huge margin, despite spending enormously more to do it. There are reasons for this. If you think students are being well educated today, then you live in a lucky area and maybe your are, or you don't ever hire people from their ranks. It's very disappointing and not necessary.

Revenant said...

Except that we know that virtually none of our current 8th graders are asked to pass a test like that in 1954.

I'm certainly willing to believe that modern American students have a lesser understanding of the workings of government than students of fifty or sixty years ago.

On the other hand, this is one crappy test. It is pretty clearly a test of rote memorization, and in many cases rote memorization of useless or near-useless data. For example, the name of the current Postmaster General is worth 1 point; the fact that the Constitution is the highest law of the land is worth 1 point. Several of the questions treat opinion as fact (e.g.

It is also pretty clear from reading the responses that while the student in question memorized the answers, he didn't necessarily understand them. If you walked up to Kenny Hignite in June 7 of 1954, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he was completely unable to explain the structure of the American government. Tests like this remind me of having to memorize the state capitals when I was in Junior High. On the rare occasions when I am required to care what the capital city of Oregon is, I Google it. :)

bagoh20 said...

The proof above all is how poorly we now do against the rest of the world. There are, of course, a lot of reasons for that difference, but it proves the possible and we are nowhere close. What could be more important to a people than making ready the next generation?

bagoh20 said...

Revenant, how did you learn your multiplication tables? Do you think it's important even though you have a calculator.

Should we stop teaching them, and spelling - you can just look it up after all.

Revenant said...

so the literacy rate stuff mathematic does work out, but the 20 times improvement was going from 80% to 99% in 140 years, not a big improvement considering all the changes and expense in that time.

I'm not sure how much "bigger" you could possibly want it to be, considering that 100% is the maximum (and an unattainable one, although we could come closer)

Approximately 20 in 100 Americans was illiterate 140 years ago. Today, it is 1 in 100. That's a 95% reduction in illiteracy. Sounds like a big deal to me. If we reduced the rate of death from skin cancer by 95%, nobody would hesitate to call that a big victory against skin cancer.

chuckR said...

According to UNESCO and the CIA World Factbook, the literacy rate for the United States is 99%. I'll leave it to you to subtract 99% from 100% and determine the resulting illiteracy rate. :)

Well, the UN and the CIA say its so - good chance it ain't so. Ask teachers about social promotions. A high school diploma is no guarantee of literacy. Or the ability to do simple math. Or the ability to think logically. I know that many universities have a mandatory Remedial High School 101 course. How can that be?

Revenant said...

Revenant, how did you learn your multiplication tables? Do you think it's important even though you have a calculator.

The fact that 3 x 3 equals 9

a) will always be true, and
b) is something you'll have to know at numerous points during your life

The identity of the Postmaster General

a) will be changing shortly, and
b) is something you'll only ever need to know to pass this Civics test

Rote memorization is good for learning basic facts. But rote memorization of context-free and/or useless information is just scholastic masturbation.

Class factotum said...

Diana S. Beardsley, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Yale Medical School, died Tuesday, March 30, 2010. She ... was an internationally known pioneer in the study of hemophilia and other bleeding disorders and a leading figure in the treatment of childhood hemophilia and cancer. At Yale, Dr. Beardsley built a nationally recognized program in coagulopathies and platelet disorders.

This woman went to the same one-room schoolhouse in northern Wisconsin that my mother attended. There were 8 grades in one class. Her parents probably didn't go past 8th grade. (They were neighbors of my grandparents, who didn't go past 8th grade, either.) Yet she accomplished all this with a rural education 55 years ago. The teacher was probably not unionized.ja

http://www.riverfallsjournal.com/event/obituary/id/94753/

bagoh20 said...

"That's a 95% reduction in illiteracy."

If it went now from 1% illiteracy to .01% that would be 99% improvement. We got a long way to go apparently.

But seriously folks, that 20% is not a big deal since many did not attend school then and literacy is the most basic education and hardly comprises being educated and ready to contribute in todays world.

We need to stop making excuses for sucking at K-12. If it was competitive like higher education it would be a lot better. There currently is no incentive to do better, for students, teachers, administrators, or parents. Unless they take the time to care about it.

If I was a teacher, I'd want paid by my performance, and I'd educate the shit out of those kids. How can we expect students to excel when their teachers work in a system that does not reward it for anyone.

I can't imagine working where everybody got paid the same according to seniority. I would shrivel and die from boredom and lack of motivation.

AJ Lynch said...

Mad Man:

I am curious, how should k-12 public schools be funded?

AJ Lynch said...

Mad Man said:
"That's the beauty of this country. Don't like something? You can move to where things work."

I agreed with you 100% until Obamacare fixed healthcare by mandating it be uniformly medicocre across state lines. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. I hope your kids graduate from high school before Obama fixes education! Heh.

AJ Lynch said...

Bago said kids are less prepared today than they were many many years ago. That may be true. And consider this- the world especially the business world is changing at a faster and faster pace. Yet the education establishment has gotten larger and larger. It has zero agility so it can't respond fast enough to adapt its methods and curriculums to suit the changing world and better prepare its students.

Unions are alike everywhere- they don't think long term, don't consider if their contract demands will bankrupt the employers. As a result,we end up with GM, Chrysler, big city and state govts facing insolvency. In return, the taxpayers get students who have pretty much the same training & skills as they got 25 years ago.

David said...

Here's a definition of literacy that makes sense:

Literacy is the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential.

The 1% illiteracy rate in CIA Factbook is based on a definition of "percentage of people over 15 who can read and write." Under this definition, if you can read a STOP sign and write your name, you are literate.

Read Jonothan Kozol's book "Illiterate America." It will give you the real picture, which is nothing like 1% illiteracy.

The principal reason I lost faith in my former liberalism was the dogged refusal to recognize that the disastrous politics and policies of the left in education have damaged the people the purport to help most.

Revenant suffers from cranial anal insertion.

Revenant said...

The 1% illiteracy rate in CIA Factbook is based on a definition of "percentage of people over 15 who can read and write."

That part is mostly correct...

Under this definition, if you can read a STOP sign and write your name, you are literate.

... but THAT part, you made up. The Factbook uses the individual countries' definitions for what constitutes the ability to read and write. For the USA, that requires that the level of reading and writing skill be sufficient to function on the job, in the family, and in society.

But if you don't like the CIA/UNESCO stats, this is helpful and shows similar improvements.