November 13, 2008

Today's Quote

It's time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no surprise that our school system doesn't improve: it's more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy.

-Al Shanker, President AFT

70 comments:

Downes said...

Yes, well, given the recent melt-down, I wouldn't recommend the existing market economy as a remedy for the supposed communist model.

Instead of simply red-baiting the educational system and recommending a demonstrably failed alternative, it will take some genuine thought, not dogma, to address learning needs in the future.

KDeRosa said...

I wouldn't recommend the "existing market economy" either, what with all the governmental interference in the guise of socially desirable policy that is largely responsible for much of the mess in the first place.

This is one of the few times I agree with Downes: let's get rid of government interference in the market economy.

Unless he's advocating for even more governmental interference and control, which at last count was responsible for about 130 million civilian deaths between the various flavors of totalitarian regimes. That I'm not for.

Dick Schutz said...

These days, it's hard to distinguish between "our own market economy" and the "communist economy" but that's beside the point.

El-hi education isn't a "market" and the metaphor is inapt.

The situation is actually more dire than Shanker states. The endeavor is "planned" only in rhetoric. "Innovations" are wishes, and there is no operational attention to "productivity"--reliability of effects, time, and cost. "Proficiency" is viewed as a cut score on ungrounded measures and "progress" is viewed as gains on fictional abstractions.

In earlier times the endeavor covered up its flaws by dropping student failures out along the way--grade 4, grade 8, and during high school. "Education for all American youth" was the national goal, and there was no question of qualitative considerations. With quantitative "full enrollment" achieved, the qualitative limitations have become more obvious, but el hi is academically still much what it was decades ago. The "reforms" have been rhetorical and/or cosmetic.

Does that argue for "less government?" To me it argues for wiser government. But the "wisdom" will have to come from outside the governmental bureaucracy per se--the broader academic community and/or the broader el hi school community. Neither is now fettered, but I sure don't see much wisdom, or "genuine thought" as Downes puts it, evident in either community.

palisadesk said...

A somewhat off-topic, but useful source for understanding background forces in the USA that differentiate it from European countries and from Canada, Australia and the rest of the English-speaking world, is this book from Seymour Lipset and Gary Marks:
It Didn't Happen Here

It's not about education, but USA solutions to social problems that other countries deal with in a more government-directed way will probably take a different path.

The book provides much food for thought. The "social democracy" movement and the concept of the social contract that informs much debate in other countries is absent in the US. Some of the factors these authors identify as prevailing cultural determinants will likely inform the "change" that the new administration hopes to foster. These can possibly be made to work for the benefit of families and students. Worth thinking about anyhow.

Parry Graham said...

So what's a better alternative?

Eric said...

So what's a better alternative?

How about "new unionism" as promoted by NEA Presidents Mary Hatwood Futrell, Keith Geiger, and Bob Chase (but, alas, atrophied under Reg Weaver's anti-NCLB obsession)?

NEA President Bob Chase, Feb 1997:

"Bear in mind that, for nearly three decades now, the National Education Association has been a traditional, somewhat narrowly focused union. We have butted heads with management over bread-and-butter issues -- to win better salaries, benefits, and working conditions for school employees. And we have succeeded.

"Today, however, it is clear to me -- and to a critical mass of teachers across America -- that while this narrow, traditional agenda remains important, it is utterly inadequate to the needs of the future. It will not serve our members' interest in greater professionalism. It will not serve the public's interest in better quality public schools. And it will not serve the interests of America's children ... the children we teach ... the children who motivated us to go into teaching in the first place."

Mr. Jones said...

Err . . . you mean former AFT president Al Shanker.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't recommend the "existing market economy" either, what with all the governmental interference in the guise of socially desirable policy that is largely responsible for much of the mess in the first place.

Spoken like a true believer. It is not the failings of my utopia, but the fact that it has not been put into practice in a sufficiently pure form that is the fault of everything.

A true believer Communist could not have said it better.

rightwingprof said...

"Yes, well, given the recent melt-down, I wouldn't recommend the existing market economy"

Oh, why, or do you understand nothing about economics? Government intervention started the meltdown.

rightwingprof said...

"El-hi education isn't a "market" and the metaphor is inapt."

Really? So a student pays tuition for what, exactly?

And I don't know what "el-hi" is. I can't find it in a dictionary.

Dick Schutz said...

In every developed country in the world, education of youth is a governmentally financed public service, not a "market." Even with "vouchers," the public taxpayers pay, and the government regulates.

I certainly concur that the US federal government is currently misguidedly intrusive in schools and classrooms, and cite the failure of NCLB to support the point.

But "no government" involvement in education is wishfully silly.

El-hi is shortcut for elementary-high school.

As Downes commented some time back,
"It will take some genuine thought, not dogma, to address learning needs in the future."

rightwingprof said...

"In every developed country in the world, education of youth is a governmentally financed public service, not a market."

I see your understanding of English is limited. A service, whether provided by public or private sector, is a market. And "el-hi" is not "short" for anything in English.

Dick Schutz said...

Hey, rightwingprof. Try googling for the definition of "service." There are several variations of usage, but none involves the term "market." Then google for "el-hi." You'll find that dictionaries are in accord in defining the acronym.

Do right wing profs use a dictionary that differs from the rest of the dictionary market?

Character Education said...

Future learning needs have to be worked on from now... Character education of every person and every one should knows the government laws. Simple education is not enough.

Mário Fernandes said...

Wooow!

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

What's the alternative to a market in education services? Perhaps it's better to suppose a range of options on a multidimensional continuum and ask: "What actions can policymakers, teachers, taxpayers, parents, and/or students take to improve the performance of the US (formal) K-PhD. education system?" The answer will depend on the powers available to the person who answers.

The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality (definition). Every law on the books is a threat by the State to kidnap (arrest), assault (subdue), and to forcibly innoculate with HIV (imprison) someone, under specified circumstances. People do not become more intelligent, more compassionate, better-informed, or more capable (except in their enhanced access to violence) when they enter the State's employ. The tools available to State actors are violence and threats of violence, and subsidy, extracted at gunpoint from taxpayers.

In the US today, academics design school policy. These academics excelled at school. They have spent their entire lives in school. They imagine that the academic is the highest form of life on Earth and that everyone wants to be a college professor. The curriculum they prescribe and the goals to which they invite students to aspire are foreign to many normal children. Training an artistically or mechanically inclined child for an academic career using a transcript as the incentive is like teaching a cat to swim using carrots as the reward.

Compulsory, unpaid labor is slavery; black or white, male or female, young or old. Compulsion kills motivation. US schools fail because the give to many children no reason to do what schools require. Einstein opposed compulsory attendance at school. Gandhi opposed compulsory attendance at school.

The State-monopoly US school system originated in anti-Catholic bigotry and has become an employment program for dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel, a source of padded construction and supply contracts for politically-connected insiders, and a venue for State-worshipful indoctrination. If this is not so, why canot any student take, at any time, an exit exam (the GED will do) and apply the taxpayers' age 6-18 K-12 education subsidy toward post-secondary tuition at any VA=aproved post-secondary institution or toward a wahe subsidy at any qualified (say, has filed W-2 forms on at least three adult employees for at least the previous four years) employer?

The NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel's schools (the "public" schools) operate for the convenience of administrators, not for the benefit of students. Consider the concept of "a year of Math" or "a year of English Literature". This makes as much sense as "a pound of friendship" or "a meter of exercise". Think on it: measurement of course content in units of time reflects what some administrator imagines a "normal" child can acquire in some amount of time. This reflects systematic indifference to individual differences in ability. And THAT kills motivation.

The education industry is not a natural monopoly. Beyond a very low level there are no economies of scale at the delivery end of the education business. Education only marginally qualifies as a public good as economists use the term and the "public goods" argument implies subsidy and regulation, at most, not State (government, generally) operation of an industry.

Paul B said...

Way too much Jolt, eh?

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

You pefer soundbites?

Michael said...

In the US today, academics design school policy.

Sorry, but that's simple bullshit. Politicians design school policy.

Michael said...

Oh, why, or do you understand nothing about economics? Government intervention started the meltdown.

If you mean the conservative lunacy of deregulation foisted on the country by right-wing ideologues like you, then you're correct. Otherwise, not so much.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Michael,

Have you attended State legislative Education Commottee meetings? Talked to legislators about the drafting process? Academics design Education-related legislation (and a lot of other legislation). Read Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms. Misguided academics promote early childhood education and numerous other lunatic fads. Once legislators establish broad policy (through the legislation their academic advisors write), academics inform bureaucrats on details.

Paul B said...

This thread is dancing around the original post, about planned economies and centralized control?

If you leave out the pejoratives, it seems a valid consideration, i.e. is it better to construct a one size fits all model, or is it better to allow for some organic (evolutionary) development? It seems to me that this is the essential nut of the communal vs. capitalist model.

In education, we've been inexorably centralizing for decades. What has it wrought? Are we better for it?

I think not.

Dick Schutz said...

The thing is, the "control" is illusory. That is, it's a matter of political power not instruction. Instructionally, the system is out of control. It runs on empty rhetoric that provides a fog cover for the political power struggles.

Of course, everything is political. Just as everything is economic, psychological, and so on. But schooling is characterized by relying on relative and ungrounded instructional accomplishment measures that are sensitive only to SES differences, not to instructional differences.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

"Control" is a matter of degree.

Several lines of evidence support the following generalizations:
1. As institutions take from individual parents the power to determine for their own children the choice of curriculum and the pace and method of instruction, overall system performance falls.
2. Political control of school harms most the children of the least politically adept parents ("Well, duh", as my students would say).

"...(S)chooling ...rel(ies) on... measures that are sensitive only to SES differences, not to instructional differences."

Abundant evidence contradicts this assertion. Value-added assessment finds strong teacher-induced effects. Herman Brutsaert found systematic differences in performance between parochial schools and government schools in Belgium. Parochial schools generated higher overall performance and exhibited a weaker relation between parent SES and student performance than government schools (State control of school exacerbates inequality).

Dick Schutz said...

"As institutions take from individual parents the power to determine for their own children the choice of curriculum and the pace and method of instruction, overall system performance falls."

Only in home schooling do parents have this "power."

"Political control of school harms most the children of the least politically adept parents"

'Duh' is apt. This is a truism, not a matter of "evidence."

There is no question that there is variabllity among teachers in student scores on standardized tests. But this is true whether the tests are measure of "general ability" "reading" or "math" and students are still differentiated only by SES within the these teacher variations.

Again, we're getting away from the originating post.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Paul: "This thread is dancing around the original post, about planned economies and centralized control?"
Schultz: "The thing is, the "control" is illusory. That is, it's a matter of political power not instruction".
Kirkpatrick: " 'Control' is a matter of degree.
Several lines of evidence support the following generalizations:
1. As institutions take from individual parents the power to determine for their own children the choice of curriculum and the pace and method of instruction, overall system performance falls
."
Schultz: "Only in home schooling do parents have this 'power.' "

No. It's a matter of degree. Vouchers give parents more control than they have in State (government, generally)-monopoly school systems. Multiple, small school districts give parents more power than they have in large districts.

Kirkpatrick: "2. Political control of school harms most the children of the least politically adept parents ('Well, duh', as my students would say)."
Schultz: "'Duh' is apt. This is a truism, not a matter of 'evidence.' "

Hardly a truism (though it's a strong point im my favor that this appears so obvious it appears tautological). The premise of State assumption of control is that control by remote authorities is beneficial. There is abundant evidence that policies which give to individual parents the power to determine for their own children the course of study and the pace and method of instruction outperform policies which deny this power to parents and give it to remote authorities. The more remote, the lower the performance.

Dick Schutz said...

Kirkpatrick: "Vouchers give parents more control than they have in State (government, generally)-monopoly school systems. Multiple, small school districts give parents more power than they have in large districts."

Me: The "control" is illusory. All "charter" schools use "public funds," = "State" funds = tax funds. The only difference is who controls the expenditures. Charters are a mixed bag as are public schools.

Kirkpatrick: "The premise of State assumption of control is that control by remote authorities is beneficial."

Me: The State's responsibility for el-hi schooling is written into State constitutions. It's not about "control by remote authorities.

Kirkpatrick: "There is abundant evidence that policies which give to individual parents....."

Me: Could you provide a few links to the evidence you're referring to Malcolm?

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Kirkpatrick: "Vouchers give parents more control than they have in State (government, generally)-monopoly school systems. Multiple, small school districts give parents more power than they have in large districts."
Schultz: "The 'control' is illusory. All 'charter' schools use 'public funds', = 'State' funds = tax funds. The only difference is who controls the expenditures. Charters are a mixed bag as are public schools."

That difference in control of funds makes a large (and measurable) difference in control over education. This is analogous to the difference between a State-operated soup kitchen, where you eat what the State serves, versus Food Stamps, where you eat what you choose.

Kirkpatrick: "The premise of State assumption of control is that control by remote authorities is beneficial."
Schultz: "The State's responsibility for el-hi schooling is written into State constitutions. It's not about 'control' by remote authorities."

Seems to me the usual method by which the State assumes responsibility for pre-college education is to take control from parents and give it to remote authorities.

Kirkpatrick: "There is abundant evidence that policies which give to individual parents....."
Schiltz: "Could you provide a few links to the evidence you're referring to Malcolm?"

How 'bout cites instead of links? I summarized some evidence here.

It's a long and involved argument. Across the US, States which compel attendance in numerous small districts yield higher 4th and 8th grade NAEP Reading and Math scores than States which compel attendance in a few large districts. I have used Reading scores, Math composite scores, Number and Operations subtest scores, and Algebra and Functions subtest scores. I have used percentile scores, proficiency scores, mean scores, and mean scores by parents' race and level of education. NCES does not make available to unaffilitated investigators NAEP scores by student, school, or individual school district so I use State-level scores and three measures of district size: mean district size, percent of students enrolled in districts over 15,000 enrollment (or 20,000, depending on which year of the __Digest of Education Statistics__ you use), or percent of enrollment assigned to one or another of the nation's top 130 largest school districts. In most cases the coefficient of correlation (score, size) is negative (scores fall as districts increase in size). The exceptions are instructive. The coefficient of correlation (score, size) is slightly positive whene "score" is "mean score of children of college-educated white parents (though this turns negative when a few States are removed from the data set). The "State" with the highest score (children of college-educated White parents, children of high-school educated white parents, is Washington, D.C. The State with the lowest score, children of high-school educated white parents, children of high-school educated black parents, is Hawaii. The politically adept group in Hawaii is neither black nor white.

Across the US, the coefficient of correlation between age at which States compel attendance and NAEP Reading and Math scores is positive (later is better). Every year that compulsory attendance applies is a year less of parent control.

In Alaska, homeschooled children enrolled in "virtual" (correspondence) government schools outperform chidren enrolled in conventional schools. The median score of homeschoolers is close to the 80th percentile score of conventionally-schooled children. Homeschooled children of parents with no education beyond high school outperform the students of college-educated teachers in conventional Alaskan government schools. Alaska has (had, when I looked) the highest 90th percentile score (NAEP 8th grade Math) of any State, so the "sample self-selection" argument doesn't work as an objection to the parent control hypothesis.

Belgium subsidizes parent choice of school. In his comparison of parochial and government schools in Belgium, Herman Brutsaert found that parochial schools generated higher performance and exhibited a weaker correlation between parent SES and scores. Political control of school exacerbates inequality.

In internation comparison, Lassibile and Gomez found a strong positive relation between tax-subsidized options in pre-college education and National-level standardized test scores (TIMSS or PISA, iirc).

Joshua Angrist found higher performance (by several measures) in a natural experiment (random-assignment by lottery) of vouchers versus seats in government schools. See NBER Reporter.

Dick Schutz said...

Re Kirkpatrick's "evidence"

Statistics 101: "Correlation is not evidence of causation."

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Kirkpatrick: "There is abundant evidence that policies which give to individual parents the power to determine for their own children the course of study and the pace and method of instruction outperform policies which deny this power to parents and give it to remote authorities."
Schults: "Could you provide a few links to the evidence you're referring to Malcolm?"

(Discussion)...

Schultz: "Re Kirkpatrick's 'evidence'

Statistics 101: 'Correlation is not evidence of causation.'
"

What constitutes evidence that policies which give to parents control over their own children's education outperform policies which deny parents this control? What else but comparisons of various policies?

Correlation or something like it is the only evidence of causation.

Here's Russell on Hume: "Hume's scepticism rests on his rejection of the principle of induction. The principle of induction, as applied to causation, says that, if A has been found very often accompanied or followed by B, and no instance is known of A not being accompanied or followed by B, then it is probable that on the next occasion on which A is observed it will be accompanied or followed by B. If the principle is to be adequate, a sufficient number of instances must make the probability not far short of certainty. If this principle, or any other form from which it can be deduced, is true, then the causal inferences which Hume rejects are valid, not indeed as giving certainty, but as giving a sufficient probability for practical purposes. If this principle is not true, every attempt to arrive at general scientific laws from particular observations is fallacious, and Hume's scepticism is inescapable for an empiricist."
And...
Bertrand Russell, The Quotable Bertrand Russell (ed. Lee Eisler, Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1993), p. 253. "We must therefore ask ourselves: What sort of thing is it reasonable to believe without proof? I should reply: The facts of sense experience and the principles of mathematics and logic -- including the inductive logic employed in science."

Parry Graham said...

Malcolm,

"1. As institutions take from individual parents the power to determine for their own children the choice of curriculum and the pace and method of instruction, overall system performance falls.
2. Political control of school harms most the children of the least politically adept parents ("Well, duh", as my students would say)."

Are you suggesting that parents should have greater determination of their children's curriculum and pace and method of instruction? Practically speaking, what would this look like?

In addition, are you suggesting that reduced political control of schools would lead to improvements in the education of the children of the least politically adept parents?

Parry

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Parry,

1. What would more parent control look like?
a) Repeal of assignment by district.
b) Wider charter school authorization (allow any 501-c(3) corporation to open a charter school).
c) Smaller school districts, with teacher credential requrements and employee contracts determined at district level. It's hard to see through the statistical fog, but it looks like performance deteriorates seriously after district enrollment exceeds 3000 or so.
d) Subsidized homeschooling, perhaps through "virtual" (correspondence) government schools, as in Alaska.
e) Tuition vouchers or tuition tax credits (deductible from taxes owed with a "negative" tax for people whose deduction exceeds liability).
f) My preference, Parent Performance Contracting.
g) Raise the age at which compulsory attendance starts. Early compulsory attendance is counter-indicated by NAEP test scores.
h) Reduce the age at which compulsory attendance ends.
i) GED at any age.

2. Would reduced political control of schools lead to improvements in the education of the children of the least politically adept parents?

Almost certainly, although this depends on the measures one uses to assess performance and on the time scale over which one compares system performance. Recall the argument between WEB DuBois and Booker T. Washington over the education of black children. I'm on Washington's side, here.

One area which offers much room for improvement is tailoring curriculum and methods of instruction to students' interests and abilities. The State-monopoly school system's one-size-fits-all method of operation suits bureaucratic convenience, not students or parents.

This is a large argument, so I'll leave it for now with the observation by Ivan Illich that a compassionate society would have in its constitution a clause like the First Amendment to the US Constitution which would read: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of education."

Dick Schutz said...

Malcolm, your wish list has no chance whatsoever of being enacted. What is missing is any sense of the common welfare, the basic reason for the endeavor termed "government."

The wish list proposes to use tax funds to promote a personal ideology under the banner of "increased parental control." It runs counter to polling results that have been consistent for decades. Parents and public alike regard education as among the highest of GOVERNMENTAL domestic priorities.

The rhetorical political argument ignores the present generation of youth of school age, many of whom are being poorly served by the present implicit national curriculum.

More simply: Charter/ schmarter, public/private, monopoly/shmopoly megnet/demagnet (and so on) begs the question of how to reliably teach kids to read, to do math, and to acquire the other academic expertise that humanity has found indispensable. It is currently feasible to reliably accomplish these aspirations. But special interest propaganda provides a rhetorical fog that maintains the status quo.

On the other hand, it's conceivable you do have a plan for efffecting the wish list.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Schultz: "Malcolm, your wish list has no chance whatsoever of being enacted."

Well, pieces of it have been enacted in some US States. Alaska subsidizes homeschooling. Minnesota enacted an education tax credit and an open enrollment (across district) policy. Arizona has a wide-open charter law. The Florida legislature enacts one voucher statute after another and the SCOFLA keeps striking them down, so it seems the only thing keeping students confined o the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel's schools in Florida is seven crooked judges.

Schultz: "What is missing is any sense of the common welfare, the basic reason for the endeavor termed 'government'."

What is missing is the delusion that the goons with the guns (the State) have any special expertice in the education business.

Schultz: "The wish list proposes to use tax funds to promote a personal ideology under the banner of 'increased parental control'."

Exactly backwards. It is advocates of the State-monopoly school system who would impose their vision on others.

SWchultz: "It runs counter to polling results that have been consistent for decades. Parents and public alike regard education as among the highest of GOVERNMENTAL domestic priorities."

Polls also find majorities in favor of vouchers. No contradiction. The State can (and does, in some countries) subsidize education without operating most schools.

I agree that what is missing from most pro-school voucher discussions is an answer to the question: "Who will bell the cat?" How to defeat the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel? I suspect students, parents, real classroom teachers, and taxpayers will continue to lose to the cartel, in the political arena, in most US States, until this corrupt $500 billion+ per year enteprise drives the US economy into the dirt.

For most parents, homeschooling is the most practical escape option, and the point of policy discussions is simply to illustrate the venality of politicians. The argument amounts to this: "__X__ is good policy. If politicians were concerned for the public welfare, they would enact __X__. They do not enact __X__, therefore they are not concerned for the public welfare."

It makes about as much sense for people who are not in government to argue anout what politicians and government bureaucrats should do as it does for the swimming survivors of a mid-ocean shipwreck to argue about what sharks "should" eat. The only practical purpose of such a discussion is to convince swimmers to climb aboard any available srap of floating debris.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Schultz: "On the other hand, it's conceivable you do have a plan for efffecting the wish list."

Incrementally.

Dick Schutz said...

"Incrementally," we'll all be dead.
"Plan" means "plan," not pie in the sky bye 'n bye.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

It's "In the long run we're all dead."

Incremental change can occur quickly. Marshall Fritz suggested that homeschooling might grow slowly for a while, then accelerate and overwhelm conventional schools quite rapidly after a point. Milton Friedman conjectured that a few successful State-level voucher demonstrations would precipitate a rapid transformation of the US education industry.

I'm just a foot soldier. I will tutor, teach in independent schools, testify at Education Committee hearings, and try to embarass NEA shills on internet forums. The Generals (Institute for Justice, Friedman Foundation, Brookings Institution) are responsible for the grand strategy.

Dick Schutz said...

Hey, Malcolm, I agree with several of your wishes. Technically, education is now an anywhere/anytime enterprise. Irrespective of the political matters that concern you,inexorable advances in information technology will inexorably transform educational institutions and practices. The only question is the rate. My hunch is that the changes will creep in as the technologies of word processing and the Internet have done, but who knows? The recession/depression could create a sufficient "crisis" to force more radical and rapid change. Futures are hard to predict--as Milton Friedman found (or would have found, had he lived.)

Parry Graham said...

Malcolm,

Two quotes of yours that I find particularly interesting:

"What is missing is the delusion that the goons with the guns (the State) have any special expertise in the education business."

"For most parents, homeschooling is the most practical escape option"

Do you think that most parents have any special expertise in the education business? In addition, do you believe that most parents have the financial resources to homeschool their children?

A couple additional questions:
-If assignment by district is repealed, how would transportation work?
-While student performance in larger districts may lag behind student performance in smaller districts, what evidence do you have to connect this disparity to teacher credentialing and employee contracting practices, as opposed to multiple other factors?
-How would raising the age of compulsory attendance, or reducing the age at which compulsory attendance ends, have a positive impact on the achievement of economically disadvantaged students, which is (in my opinion) the group most in need of improved educational opportunities?

Your posts raise many more questions in my mind, but I'll stop there.

Parry

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Parry,

"Do you think that most parents have any special expertise in the education business?

Most definitely! System performance depends most on student motivation, competent instruction, and a coherent curriculum. Over the normally encountered range of variables which affect overall system performance, student motivation outweighs other considerations.

Children, especially very young children, will work for love, and parents (mom, especially) will more reliably supply love than will a teacher.

In addition. individual parents know their own children best and therefore occupy a better position to match curriculum to students.

Please read this one page Marvin Minsky comment on school.

"In addition, do you believe that most parents have the financial resources to homeschool their children?

That depends on the legal barriers which States interpose. Please read this article on artificially extended adolescence by Ted Kolderie.

Benjamin Franklin was homeschooled, then attended school for two years (age ten to twelve iirc), then apprenticed. Thomas Edison was homeschooled to age 13 and then went to work. Hiram Maxim left school at 13 and apprenticed. David Farragut joined the US Navy at 9, went to sea at 13, and commanded his first ship at 15.

Currently, minimum wage laws and child labor laws place on the job training for many occupations off limits.

In Hawaii, the law does not require that homeschooling instruction occur between 0800 and 1430. Parents do not need to sacrifice an income to homeschool. As I read it, parents may legally extend daycare to age 18.

" -If assignment by district is repealed, how would transportation work?"

Neither the district nor the State needs a position. Let parents determine this. No one is any worse off.

"-While student performance in larger districts may lag behind student performance in smaller districts, what evidence do you have to connect this disparity to teacher credentialing and employee contracting practices, as opposed to multiple other factors?"

This is partly conjecture and partly empirical. There's a lot of stray threads which suggest this generalization. Look at the red State/blue State map where individual counties are colored. Large cities in red States are blue (unionized). Mostly, it's urban polities which contain large districts. In abstract, unionization efforts have a larger payoff in large districts, so unions have a larger incentive to unionize large districts. Empirically, there is little relation between teacher credential requirements at the district level and State-level system performance (beyond minimum competency as assessed by the SAT or similar tests, neither State-level requirements that districts use College of Ed degrees, Pxraxis scores, or NTE scores predict system performance. See Holland "How to Build a Better Teacher", __Policy Review__).

"-How would raising the age of compulsory attendance, or reducing the age at which compulsory attendance ends, have a positive impact on the achievement of economically disadvantaged students, which is (in my opinion) the group most in need of improved educational opportunities?"

I have to give up a point here. Overall, later (start) is better. However, mean scores of children of high-school educated Black parents are negatively correlated with age of compulsory attendance (for this group, earlier is better). I would still support a "test-out" option, so that the State does not take children from parents who are doing a good job.

There is a slight negative correlation between NAEP 8th grade Math scores and the age at which the State ceases to compel attendance (earkier exit is better). I suppose the mechanism has to do with both student motivation and teacher motivation, but I haven't looked closely at this.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

David Farragut went to sea at 11.

Dick Schutz said...

If you want some boots on the ground experience rather than heads in the clouds opinion, try "Charter Schools' Problems Surfacing"

www.philly.com/inquirer/education/20081229_Charter_schools__problems
_surfacing.html?viewAll=y

If the link doesn't activate you can google the title of the article and Philadelphia Inquirer.

Parry Graham said...

Malcolm,

Here is the way I read your argument (please correct any misinterpretation):

For children that demonstrate high aptitude/ability/intelligence (whatever you want to call it), provide supreme flexibility. Allow homeschooling, Web-based instruction, delayed starts in formal schooling, early exits from formal schooling, GED at any age, etc. In addition, for parents of means willing to take responsibility for their children's formal education, allow supreme flexibility so long as parents and children can provide some documentation of appropriate progress (e.g., parent performance contracting). In defense of this argument, you cite or reference numerous examples of exemplary individuals who achieved high levels of success despite poor experiences with or an almost complete lack of formal schooling (e.g., Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Michael Faraday).

For those exceptional children and circumstances, I agree that a greater amount of flexibility would likely be beneficial. However, you appear to be arguing that this approach should be extended to all children and parents, replacing the existing structure of formalized K-12 public schooling.

Am I reading your argument correctly? If so, I would have serious reservations about any educational system that assumes we all have Ben Franklins and Albert Einsteins inside of us, just waiting to be released.

Parry

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Parry,

The argument does not proceed from exceptional cases to a generalization. I use exceptional cases as stark illustrations of the generalization.

Back up several steps.

The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality (definition). Place industries on a continuum.
What part of the continuum from "very likely candidate for State operation" to "very unlikely candidate for State operation" does the education industry occupy? In abstract, the education industry is a very unlikely candidate for State (government, generally) operation.

Why does the State intervene in the education industry at all? This "why?" question has three interpretations: 1) The welfare-economic "why?". What does society gain from a State role in the education industry? 2) The historical "why?". What events coincided with the State's entry into the education business? 3) The political science "why?". What do those politicians who support the State's presence in the education industry gain from their support?

1) See below.
2) Anti-Catholic bigotry.
3) Dedicated lobbying by current recipients of the taxpayers' $500 billion+ per year K-12 education subsidy.

1) We consider the welfare-economic argument for a State role in the education industry here.

The case for subsidy is weak. Given the case for State subsidization of the education industry, the case for State operation of schools for the general population is weaker still.

Please read the introductory section (p 88) in West, E.G. "Education Vouchers in Principle and Practice: A Survey", The World Bank __Research Observer__, V12#1, Feb., 1997.

The education industry is not a natural monopoly. Beyond a very low level, there are no economies of scale at the delivery end of the education business as it currently operates. "Natural monopoly" and "economies of scale" are the usual welfare-economic arguments for State operation of an industry. Even when an industry qualifies as a natural monopoly or exhibits significant economies of scale the case for State operation of an industry is not decisive, and the education industry is not a natural monopoly and, beyond a very low level, does not exhibit significant economies of scale at the delivery end as it currently operates.

Education only marginally qualifies as a public good as economists use the term and the public goods argument implies subsidy and regulation, at most, not State operation of an industry. The State cannot subsidize education without a definition of "education" but then students, parents, and real classroom teachers are bound by the State's definition. You will have a hard time finding a definition specific enough to guide a bureaucrat whose job it is to assess whether State funds are well spent and yet general enough to encompass all that normal people would call "education". In consequence, policy makers compose restricted definitions which force wildly varying children into a narrow mold. The results are tragic.

Further, State assumption of responsibility for the provision (even through subsidization) of public goods does not eliminate the "free rider" problem at the root of "public goods" analysis. The State is a corporation. Corporate oversight is a public good. Oversight of State functions is a public good which the State itself cannot provide.

I see a semi-plausible case for State operation of schools for some limited subset of the sub-adult population. Compulsory attendance statutes mean little unless some schools must accept students rejected everywhere else. Call these default-option schools "the public schools". Taxpayers do not benefit from policies which give a narrow cartel (the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel) a long-term exclusive position in receipt of the budget dedicated to the operation of these schools.

Government is not some all-seeing, benevolent God. Humans are not standard. Remote State actors, wielding the blunt instrument of State violence, have little usefully to contribute to the education industry.

Parry Graham said...

Malcolm,

I'm not interested in an intellectual case made for or against State involvement in K-12 education. The system is what it is, and debates about the nature of monopolies aren't going to change it. I'm interested in a description of how to achieve a more effective educational system.

By my reading, nothing you have written so far has described what that system would look like, and how we might achieve it. You've mentioned repeal of assignment by district, more charter schools and an expansion of voucher programs, smaller school districts, more homeschooling options, and playing with compulsory attendance laws. None of those lead to any fundamental changes in the existing K-12 model, they're just fiddling around the edges, and they appear to mostly target a sub-segment of the student population, namely more affluent families of academically gifted children (the group arguably least in need of change).

Near the beginning of this thread I asked the question "What's a better alternative?" So, what's your nuts and bolts answer?

Parry

Melissa said...

Parry states: You've mentioned repeal of assignment by district, more charter schools and an expansion of voucher programs, smaller school districts, more homeschooling options, and playing with compulsory attendance laws. None of those lead to any fundamental changes in the existing K-12 model, they're just fiddling around the edges

As a homeschooling parent in a state with many charter schools and open enrollment, I disagree with you. I see many parents mixing and matching their education options to meet the needs of their kids. Having a wide availability of options has forced the neighborhood schools to change. When I started homeschooling 5 years ago many schools were still quite hostile. Now, many in my area openly suggest pulling kids out, either part time or full time, offer suggestions and helps to homeschooling parents, and offer online options. These "fringe" options--homeschooling, charters schools, and online schooling--have in fact changed the system. The neighborhood schools know that parents have choices and so they are changing to better serve the population and retain students.

You also state, " mostly target a sub-segment of the student population, namely more affluent families of academically gifted children (the group arguably least in need of change)." This is a gross generalization. Many of the parents I interact with are financially strapped and are searching out options because their kids are NOT doing well, some for academic reasons, other emotional. Others are quite affluent and their kids still struggle. I would suggest that affluence is not the key, but parent involvement and availability and knowledge of educational options.

To your question, "What's the alternative?" I would say that multiple venues IS the alternative. No one system or method will fit all families. Having options is a way to involve parents in their kids education. When parents know they have options, the PS have to change and adapt or loose revenue and the trust of the population. Educational options need to be made available and the knowledge of them needs to be spread to parents.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Parry: "I'm interested in a description of how to achieve a more effective educational system.

By my reading, nothing you have written so far has described what that system would look like, and how we might achieve it
."

How to defeat the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel? My guess is, this will happen, if at all, in response to budget pressure rater than as a result of political attack. Just possibly, voucher supporters will win a State-level victory and some State will lead the way. Parents default on their obligation to protect their kids if they wait for politicians to fix this corrupt and abusive system. What can individual parents do? Homeschool. Move to a State wuith wide-open charter authorization (Arizona), vouchers (Georgia (?)), subsidized homeschooling (Alaska) or relaxed restrictions on homeschooling (Texas, Hawaii).

If your State doesn't offer vouchers or charter schools and you cannot move or homeschool or get your kid in a magnet school for children of privelege, you and your children will have to learn to eat crap. Sorry.

It's easy to describe very small departures from the current system. What would a school look like if we replaced red brick buildings with poured concrete buildings? Grey instead of red, obviously. What would school look like if we replaced 50 minute periods with 100 minute periods? There would be less traffic in the halls (not so easy: scores would fall. Block scheduling is counter-indicated). What would an unregulated, unsubsidized education industry look like? Who can say? In Russia, people who did not understand the market economy would ask "Who sets prices?" and apparently imagined that freedom equals chaos. Could anyone in 1965 have predicted what the computer industry and computers would look like in 2008?

What would a more effective system look like? How much more effective do you want?

Parry: "Near the beginning of this thread I asked the question 'What's a better alternative?' So, what's your nuts and bolts answer?"
Parent Performance Contracting.

Dick Schutz said...

There is something in what you have to say, Melissa. But if you look at the numbers of kids involved, Parry's contention holds: "None of those lead to any fundamental changes in the existing K-12 model, they're just fiddling around the edges."

And if you look at Charter Schools, home schooling and so on in the aggregate, it's a mixed bag in terms of accomplishments, and with "problems" that the public school system doesn't have.

Excepting home schooling, most of parental "choice" and "control" in the alternatives is superficial at best.

The trick is how to get parents involved with their children's education and how to describe "real" options. That's much easier said than done--on a systemic basis.

Parry Graham said...

Dick said it much better than I. Melissa, I agree that options are positive. But has the availability of options had a fundamental impact on the K-12 education model?

Charter schools and voucher programs provide some families with different opportunities, but the structure of charters and privates isn't that different from public schools: teachers in classrooms with groups of 15-25 students, following a prescribed curriculum.

Homeschooling represents a significantly different alternative, but not many families are in a financial position to homeschool, and my experience is that many parents (given the option) would still prefer to send their children to school.

In my opinion, online learning represents the only true viable large-scale alternative to the current system, but my guess is we're decades away from any real seismic shift. And when that shift comes, my guess is that the public education system will figure out how to incorporate online learning in ways that improve on the current model (or at least, that's my hope).

Parry

Dick Schutz said...

Parry says: "online learning represents the only true viable large-scale alternative to the current system."

The thing about "online learning" is that the current conception of what it entails is as flawed as the "off-line" learning of the current system.

Neither endeavor has any handle on "learning" that can be reliably delivered. "online education currently emulates "offline education." The online endeavor is further handicapped by the pervasive view of " educational technology" as hard or soft "ware" rather than as "how to." So EdLand has to make do with ware that was not developed for educational/learning applications, and the education landscape is littered with instructional junk that has no research or engineering behind it.

The only real weakness of the current structure is in its core function: instruction. In the aggregate, "schools" do a better job of nurturing kids than parents do. Schools provide a safe environment in the era of "terrorism." They are the first-screeners of the health system. They provide supportive nutrition services. Most importantly, they provide very competent babysitting for students at a very low cost.

"Schools" currently get no credit for these functions. And the functions can be improved and expanded via the "Community Schools" that the Ed Sec-Elect has promoted.

With respect to these societal functions, the "choices" are real and each school can be responsive to the desiderata of it's participants. Further, costs can be determined and benefits analyzed apart from the parameters of "class size" "teacher salary based on seniority," "union contracts," and the other constraining and unproductive parameters of public schooling.

This still leaves us with the dirty big secret: We don't have any weapons of mass instruction. Non-metaphorically, we don't know how to reliably teach kids to read.
NCLB has proved that. The Reading First Impact study has provided strong scientific evidence to support what all parents, teachers, and the general citizenry can see with their own eyes.

In the Internet Age, reading is more important than ever. A child who can't read by grade 3 has a "general learning disability," not a "specific learning disability."

The technical route for eliminating this defect is very tractable. But with the government-academic-and publisher triangle in denial, while poking teachers and kids with the stick of "accountability," the political obstacles are daunting.

Parry Graham said...

I think Dick has it exactly right.

I was thinking about a simple equation the other day to try and define student learning. What I came up with is:

Innate ability X time X quality of learning experiences

We're all born with certain hardware (which, in my opinion, can be changed to a certain extent over time, e.g., neuroplasticity), but the school system has no control over that.

Time is -- for the most part -- a fixed variable on the school side (although alternative schools, such as KIPP, are playing with time). Outside of school, it has a wide range. Prior to formal schooling, during school breaks, during conversations over dinner, children vary widely in the extent to which they spend time on learning-related tasks (e.g., reading a book, parent asking a child to explain an idea, etc.).

Quality of learning experiences also varies widely outside of school, but this is the variable over which schools have some real control while students are in the building. But, as Dick points out, we haven't figured out how to maximize learning experiences in a systematic way, especially past the elementary level.

Plus, this is the area in which online learning/computer-based learning still falls flat: creating high-quality learning experiences.

I think Malcolm and Melissa would argue (and I would agree) that we can improve learning experiences for small groups of specific students through homeschooling or parent performance contracts, but those aren't scalable solutions.

Which is why I think technology could be a game changer. If (and it's a big if) the learning experiences become sophisticated enough, technology is highly scalable.

Parry

Dick Schutz said...

Parry says:

"Student learning=Innate ability X time X quality of learning experiences"

That's a reasonable starting point, but it can be readily sharpened.

"Innate ability" is something that we can't now do anything about. Maybe genetic engineering or pharmaceuticals in the future, but not now. The good news is that the minimum prerequisites for reliably delivering capable readers is very low (The same holds for other instructional aspirations, but I'll stick to reading to keep it simple.) Any child who can speak in complete sentences and participate in everyday conversation has the minimal prerequisites to learn how to read if you go about it right.

Time is not just "clock/calendar time." It's determined practice. Kids enter school primed and motivated to learn to read. So that's not an obstacle either.

"Quality of learning experiences" can be sharpened to the instructional product/protocols that provide the basis for the "learning experience." It's here that the schooling currently falls short. We don't know how to reliably teach kids to read. When teachers are candid, they will admit this. But the other participants in "schooling" all pretend that we do have that "how to" technology.

Legitimate product/protocols are currently available to do the job. The technology is highly scalable and very inexpensive. The tragic irony is that EdChain from top to bottom believes that "the only important variable is the teacher. This is altogether self-serving and contrary to the modus operandi in every other sector of life, but that's a whole nother story.

"Computers"/bots will eventually be able to provide much better "quality of learning experiences" than humans can. However, little or no effort in either the public or the private sector is being devoted to the R&D required to make this happen. The public sector is chasing the fantasy of "randomized control experiments" "value added ?" and other dead end endeavors. The private sector is peddling equipment and "things" purporting to be "technology." Go figure.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Schultz: "In the aggregate, "schools" do a better job of nurturing kids than parents do. Schools provide a safe environment in the era of 'terrorism'..."

a) Why put "terrorism" in quotes?
b) Breslan. Dunblaine. Columbine.

Schultz: "...They are the first-screeners of the health system. They provide supportive nutrition services. Most importantly, they provide very competent babysitting for students at a very low cost."

US taxparers surrender over $500 billion+ per year to the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel's schools (the "public" schools). This seriously underestimates the cost of the current institutional structuree. Capital cost add tens of billions more. Teacher training appears on the post-secondary education budget, and is obviously a cost of the school system, so add the costs of all Colleges of Education across the US.

The largest cost of the current system is the opportunity cost to children of the time they spend in school. It does not take 12 years to teach a normal child to read and compute. Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom. This cost falls most heavily on the children of poor and minority parents and appears as reduced lifetime earnings, higher health care costs, and the cost of prison for the poor kids whose lives we trash. In Hawaii, juvenile arrests for assault, drug possession, drug promotion, and burglary fall in summer, when school is out of session. Juvenile hospitalizations for human induced trauma fall in summer. Schools do not prevent crime; they cause it.

Another cost is the opportunity cost, in lost information, to society of the State-monopoly system. "What works?" is an empirical question which only an experiment (a competitive market) can answer. The State-monopoly system is like an experiment with one treatment and no controls, a retarded experimewntal design.

Schultz: "we don't know how to reliably teach kids to read.
NCLB has proved that. The Reading First Impact study has provided strong scientific evidence to support what all parents, teachers, and the general citizenry can see with their own eyes."


We don't know how to get decent performance out of this institutional structure. More strongly, anyone who has read Hayek knows why we can't get decent performance out of the State-monopoly school system.
Many people learn to read at a high level, so obviously some people know how to teach children to read. So long as politicians and Education theorists ignore the critical issues of student motivation (What reason do students have to do what schools require?) and employee motivation (how does the institution structure incentives?) the US education industry will continue to flounder. Insiders have strong incentives (more jobs, more construction and supply contracts) to waste student time. This leads to deliberately inept instruction and that kills student motivation.

Melissa: "Parry states: You've mentioned repeal of assignment by district, more charter schools and an expansion of voucher programs, smaller school districts, more homeschooling options, and playing with compulsory attendance laws. None of those lead to any fundamental changes in the existing K-12 model, they're just fiddling around the edges

As a homeschooling parent in a state with many charter schools and open enrollment, I disagree with you. I see many parents mixing and matching their education options to meet the needs of their kids. Having a wide availability of options has forced the neighborhood schools to change.
"
Schultz: "There is something in what you have to say, Melissa. But if you look at the numbers of kids involved, Parry's contention holds: "None of those lead to any fundamental changes in the existing K-12 model, they're just fiddling around the edges."

And if you look at Charter Schools, home schooling and so on in the aggregate, it's a mixed bag in terms of accomplishments, and with 'problems' that the public school system doesn't have.

Excepting home schooling, most of parental 'choice' and 'control' in the alternatives is superficial at best.
"

Two rebuttals, here:
a) Why deny parents whatever control the law can provide? You may sneer at policies which give parents options, but if parents feel their enhanced control improves their situation, who are you to deny them that control?
b) Robert Conquest observrd that the twin vices of impatience and sloth often go together. Parry and Schultz complain simultaneously about incremental change as "tinkering around the edges" and about major proposals for structural change as politically unrealistic due to insider opposition. The only reason I can imagine that anyone would make both objections is to preserve the current system.

Water erodes rock. Rain and wind flatten mountains, eventually. Parents need not wait for politicians to fix this mess. Homeschool. Or (here's a recommendation for a very emotionally secure kid) have your child study Gandhi's principle of satyagraha, read O. Henry's "The Ransom of Red Chief" and drop out in school. The system would collapse if three or four kids in every classroom politely ignored the teacher and pursued their own studies independently. What can teachers do? What does a high-school GPA of 1.2 mean if students can
1) get decent scores on the SAT
2) take the GED in their junior year and leave
3) tell their local community college they were homeschooled and get core requirements out of the way, cheap and then
4) apply to university or enter the job market.

Dick Schutz said...

(Time Out!) Happy New Year!

If you were sober when writing your last post, Malcolm, buy yourself a few stiff drinks and put it on my tab. If you were drunk, good luck in sobering up.

Irrespective, you're besotted with your ideology and repeating yourself.

Re the etymology of "Besotted," see,

http://proof.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/31/besotted-etymologically-that-is/?th&emc=th

If the link doesn't activate, Google for Besotted New York Times

Get back, Ken. We need you.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

This story is told of Paul Dirac: someone asked a question about a point he made in a lecture, and he repeated word for word what he said during the lecture.

Parry and Dick Schultz do not address the critical role of student motivation.

"Ideological" is an uncomplimentary way to say "systematic" and I try to be systematic.

"Why do I tell you this little boy's story of medusas, rays, and sea monsters, nearly sixty years after the fact? Because it illustrates, I believe, how a naturalist is created. A child comes to the edge of deep water with a mind prepared for wonder....Hands-on experience at the critical time, not systematic knowledge, is what counts in the making of a naturalist. Better to be an untutored savage for a while, not to know the names or anatomical detail. Better to spend long stretches of time just searching and dreaming." (E.O. Wilson, Naturalist , p. 11-12).

"Adults forget the depths of languor into which the adolescent mind descends with ease. They are prone to undervalue the mental growth that occurs during daydreaming and aimless wandering. When I focused on the ponds and stream lying before me, I abandoned all sense of time." E. O. Wilson, __Naturalist__, p. 86-87.

"There is too much education altogether, especially in American schools. The only way of educating is to be an example--of what to avoid, if one can't be the other sort." --Albert Einstein--, __The World As I See It__, p.22 (Citadel Press).

"Give into the power of the teacher the fewest possible coercive measures, so that the only source of the pupil's respect for the teacher is the human and intellectual qualities of the latter." --Albert Einstein--, __Ideas And Opinions__, p. 61, (Three Rivers Press).

From Karl Bunday's site:...
"It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry, especially if the food, handed out under such coercion, were to be selected accordingly."
"Autobiographical Notes," in __Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist__, Paul Schilpp, ed. (1951), pp. 17-19 © 1951 by the Library of Living Philosophers, Inc.

"The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence. They are full of dull, unintelligible tasks, new and unpleasant ordinances, and brutal violations of common sense and common decency." --H.L. Mencken

"Furthermore, according to a report for UNESCO, cited in Esteve (2000), the increasing level of pupil-teacher and pupil-pupil violence in classrooms is directly connected with compulsory schooling. The report argues that institutional violence against pupils who are obliged to attend daily at an educational centre until 16 or 18 years of age increases the frustration of these students to a level where they externalise it." --Clive Harber, "Schooling as Violence", p. 9, __Educatioinal Review__ V. 54, #1.

"...It is almost certainly more damaging for children to be in school than to out of it. Children whose days are spent herding animals rather than sitting in a clasroom at least develop skills of problem solving and independence while the supposedly luckier ones in school are stunted in their mental, physical, and emotional development by being rendered pasive, and by having to spend hours each day in a crowded classroom under the control of an adult who punishes them for any normal level of activity such as moving or speaking. (DfID, 2000, pp 12, 13)" Quoted in Clive Harber, "Schooling as Violence", p. 10, __Educatioinal Review__, V. 54, #1.

"...(M)any well-known adolescent difficulties are not intrinsic to the teenage years but are related to the mismatch between adolescents' developmental needs and the kinds of experiences most junior high and high schools provide. When students need close affiliation, they experience large depersonalized schools; when they need to develop autonomy, they experience few opportunities for choice and punitive approaches to discipline..."(Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education, Stanford University), Kohn, Constant Frustration and Occasional Violence, __American School Board Journal__, September 1999.

"Violence at school is a prevalent problem. According to a national survey of school proncipals (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1998), over 200,000 serious fights or physical attacks occurred in public schools during the 1996-1997 school year. Serious violent crimes occurred in approximately 12% of middle schools and 13% of high schools. Student surveys (Kann et al, 1995) indicate even higher rates of aggressive behavior. Approximately 16.2% of high school students nationwide reported involvement in a physical fight at school during a 30-day period, and 11.8% reported carrying a weapon on school property (Kann et al, 1995)."
"Research on victims of violence at school suggests that repeated victimization has detrimental effects on a child's emotional and social development (Batsche & Knoff, 1995; Hoover, Oliver, & Thomson, 1993; Olweus, 1993). Victims exhibit higher levels of anxiety and depression, and lower self-esteem than non-victims (eg., Besag, 1989; Gilmartin, 1987; Greenbaum, 1987; Olweus, 1993). Karen Brockenbrough, Dewey G. Cornell, Ann B. Loper, Aggressive Attitudes Among Victims of Violence at School, __Education and the Treatment of Children__, V. 25, #3, Aug., 2002.

"Results showed that the over-representation of Black males that has been cited consistently in the literature begins at the elementary school level and continues through high school. Black females also were suspended at a much higher rate than White or Hispanic females at all three school levels." Linda M. Raffaele Mendez, Howard M. Knoff, Who Gets Suspended From School and Why: A Demographic Analysis, __Education and the Treatment of Children__ V. 26, #1, Feb. 2003.

"The failure to provide education to poor urban children perpetuates a vicious cycle of poverty, dependence, criminality, and alienation that continues for the remainder of their lives. If society cannot end racial discrimination, at least it can arm minorities with the education to defend themselves from some of discrimination’s effects." Justice Clarence Thomas,
ZELMAN, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION OF OHIO, et al. v. SIMMONS-HARRIS et al., Concurring
.

"Criminal violence emerges from social experience, most commonly brutal social experience visited upon vulnerable children, who suffer for our neglect of their welfare and return in vengeful wrath to plague us. If violence is a choice they make, and therefor their personal responsibility, as Athens demonstrates it is, our failure to protect them from having to confront such a choice is a choice we make, just as a disease epidemic would be implicitly our choice if we failed to provide vaccines and antibiotics. Such a choice-to tolerate the brutalization of children as we continue to do-is equally violent and equally evil, and we reap what we sow..." Richard Rhodes, __Why they Kill: The Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologist__.

"August 1, 1939"
...
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return. --W. H. Auden--

Dick Schutz said...

"Ideological" means "ideological." It doesn't mean "systematic." The expression of your ideology is consistent, Malcolm. However, it's anything but "systematic." And repeating it ad infinitum with different embellishments doesn't make it any more systematic or persuasive. I "heard you" the first time, but it's "off topic," and begs the question of serious systemic modifications of el-hi education.

If one cherry picks quotations, and takes them out of context, it's possible to find "authorities" support any position regarding education imaginable (and some that wouldn't be imagined had they not been expressed.) Regurgitating ideology only adds to the muck and fog while ignoring current realities. For one: "El-high schooling(whatever the school type, from home schooling to the most expensive private schooling) does not know how to reliably teach children to read."

I'm repeating myself, but I don't think you heard me the first time.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Schultz: "...you're besotted with your ideology and repeating yourself."
Malcolm: "'Ideological' is an uncomplimentary way to say 'systematic' and I try to be systematic."
Schultz: " 'Ideological' means 'ideological'. It doesn't mean 'systematic'."

Webster's Dictionary
Ideology: n.

"1)Archaic the study of the nature and origin of ideas
2) thinking or theorizing of an idealistic, abstract, or impractical nature; fanciful speculation
3) the doctrines, opinions, or way of thinking of an individual, class, etc.; specif., the body of ideas on which a particular political, economic, or social system is based."

"Abstract" and "system".

Merriam-Webster Online
1: visionary theorizing
2 a: a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture b: a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture c: the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program

There's "systematic" again.

I provide statistical evidence, and Dick Schultz offers bar-stool level philosophy of science: "correlation is not causation". I offer theoretical arguments, and he calls this "ideology". I offer peer reviewed research and he calls this argument from authority. That doesn't leave much but mudballs and fisticuffs, does it?

Schultz: "If one cherry picks quotations, and takes them out of context..."

Care to be specific? What was "out of context? Look at the title of the issue of __Educational Review__, "Schooling as Violence". The entire issue was dedicated to this topic. Nothing I quoted was "out of context". This was a rebuttal to Dick Schultz's entirely unsupported assertion:...
Schultz: "In the aggregate, "schools" do a better job of nurturing kids than parents do. Schools provide a safe environment in the era of 'terrorism'..."

Anonymous said...

This is "off topic" (more or less), but it's a holiday.

I contended, "In the aggregate, "schools" do a better job of nurturing kids than parents do. Schools provide a safe environment in the era of 'terrorism'..."

To check this out, check your local newspaper for the last N months. How many murders and other "crimes against children" were committed in schools." How many were committed in homes and around homes? Irrespective, of where you live schools will win every time."

Malcolm cited incidents of "fighting." School authorities recognize this as a problem and try to limit it. Observe the "fighting" that goes on in households and neighborhoods. Again schools will reliably win.

One doesn't need to quote "authorities" to support a statement that can easily be confirmed by personally cross-checking observations.

Parry Graham said...

Malcolm,

A central point of yours (please correct me if I'm wrong) appears to be that public schools, as a system, fail to motivate children, fail to develop their intellectual curiosity and meet them where they are. Instead, schools take children and herd them through a cookie-cutter curriculum, and the rigidity of the system means that many students become apathetic and fail to reach their potential. (This is my interpretation of your argument, not my own argument)

To a certain degree, I would agree with this. I think that public schools could definitely do more to motivate students (especially in the later grades), to understand and develop their individual interests, and to differentiate learning experiences. But I see this as an area for improvement -- you appear to see this as justification for a wholesale dismantling of the system.

So let's say we did what I believe you are suggesting: we dismantle the system. What is the alternative system (or collection of systems) that you would propose that would more effectively ensure that all of the children in our country are successfully educated?

This is a central question that I keep coming back to, and I don't think you've answered the question yet.

Parry

Parry Graham said...

Malcolm,

A couple incidental points/questions:

You said that “Insiders have strong incentives (more jobs, more construction and supply contracts) to waste student time. This leads to deliberately inept instruction and that kills student motivation.”

To whom specifically are you referring with the term “insiders”? In addition, are you suggesting (through the use of the word “deliberate”) that public school teachers and administrators intentionally provide ineffective instruction in order to create additional jobs and have more schools built?

You state: “You may sneer at policies which give parents options, but if parents feel their enhanced control improves their situation, who are you to deny them that control?”

I’m confused by your use of the word “sneer”. So far as I can tell, both Dick and I have described parental choice in generally positive terms. We have merely suggested that parental choice as an educational improvement mechanism will likely have only marginal impact (Dick, please correct me if I am misrepresenting your opinions).

In addition, I do not believe either Dick or I have made statements that would suggest that we are trying to “deny” parents control over their children’s education (again, a confusing choice of words). The question of parental control is ultimately a complicated one involving the intersection of state and individual interests and rights. The state has a vested interest in having an educated populace (thus compulsory education), while parents have a vested interest in their individual children’s educational experiences and future. It is up to legislators and courts to decide the particulars around enhanced parental control, and I don’t believe either Dick or I have weighed in as to our own opinions concerning the legality of enhanced parental control.

Finally, you say “Parry and Schultz complain simultaneously about incremental change as ‘tinkering around the edges’ and about major proposals for structural change as politically unrealistic due to insider opposition. The only reason I can imagine that anyone would make both objections is to preserve the current system.”

I don’t believe that either Dick or I have “complained” in any way about incremental change, we have simply made the point that we believe that incremental change amounts to tinkering around the edges (and I am certainly not opposed to incremental change, I am simply labeling certain policies or practices as such). In addition, I don’t recall either of us making the argument that structural change is politically unrealistic due to insider opposition. Finally you suggest that my intent must be to “preserve the current system”. My intent is to improve the current system, while also considering proposed alternative systems or approaches on their merits and viability.

Incidentally, you seem to do that quite a bit: state that X is true, and furthermore that Y is also true, and then state that the only circumstance in which you could imagine that X and Y could possibly be true is if Z is also true, and therefore Z must be true. You might want to consider expanding your list of possible explanations in the face of complex phenomena or opinions.

Parry

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Chubb and Moe describe the factors which prompt politically controlled schools continually to aggregate authority in ever more remote hands. They originally gave the title of their 1991 Brookings study __What Price Democracy? Politics, Markets, and America's Schools__. Later, the question, "What Price Democracy?" disappeared from the title, but the original indicated the problem they found.

Some government schools do a good job. As measured by NAEP/TIMSS, North Dakota approaches Singapore (tops in the world), and North Dakota has few independent schools. The average school district in N. Dakota enrolls fewer than 500 kids. Remote bureaucratic control generates an impulse to standardization, with a consequent reduction in motivation. Further, the policy which restricts parents' options for the use of the taxpayers' pre-college education subsidy to schools operated by State (government, generally) employees creates a class of political insiders, who, in big districts, win the competition with parents for control over the curriculum. This produces mission creep, in several forms: earlier age of compulsory school attendance (start), a later age of compulsory attendance (end) and a longer school day with more subjects.

If "public education" is not an employment program for dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel, a source of padded contracts for politically-connected insiders, and a venue for State-worshipful indoctrination, why cannot any student take, at any age, an exit exam (the GED will do) and apply the taxpayers' age 6-18 education subsidy toward post-secondary tuition or toward a wage subsidy at any qualified private-sector employer?

The question answers itself.

Want to motivate students? Offer them time off for good behavior (credit by exam), and subsidized post-secondary tuition or employment. But the insiders think it's their money, not the parents', students', or tazpayers' money.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Parry: "To whom specifically are you referring with the term 'insiders'? In addition, are you suggesting (through the use of the word 'deliberate') that public school teachers and administrators intentionally provide ineffective instruction in order to create additional jobs and have more schools?"

Insiders are those who derive their income from the US taxpayers' $500 billion+ per year K-12-dedicated revenue stream: employees, construction contractors, textbook publishers, consultants to the system (plus Professors of Education, who, though their salaries come from the post-secondary education industry, depend on the K-12 industry for the demand for their services).

Do schools shun instructional methods which might reduce student residence time in the system or accelerate children through required material? Do they deliberately steer students away from the path of early release via GED, then community college for core requirements, before University? Do public sector unions lobby the legislature against early release and in favor of an early age (start) of compulsory attendance? Most definitely. Not all teachers and administrators, but, in general, system employees will more often think of reasons to oppose acceleration or early release than to support these policies.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Parry: "So let's say we did what I believe you are suggesting: we dismantle the system. What is the alternative system (or collection of systems) that you would propose that would more effectively ensure that all of the children in our country are successfully educated?"

What I recommend will depend on the audience I address. To the new US Secretary of Education I would recommend universal credit by exam through the BIA, DOD, and US Embassy schools. If someone were to give me the e-mail address of the legislative liason of a market-oriented Governor in a State with dominant Republican majorities in the Legislature and a Supreme Court composed of Law and Economics graduates of the Universityy of Chicago and George Mason University, I would recommend Parent Performance Contracting. If the State Supreme Court and elected officials put the interests of public sector unions ahead of the welfare of children taxpayers, I would have little to say to them and would recommend to parents that they homeschool. If State laws put this option out of reach, I recommend parochial school. If financial limitations place independent schools out of reach and laws place the homeschool option out of reach, I recommend to parents that they encourage their children to negotiate with their teachers for independent study and credit by exam. Most teachers will not agree. They need to be needed. In that case, I recommend to parents that they encourage their children to drop out in school (tell the school to go to hell. Read The Ransom of Red Chief), and just refuse to comply with instruction. Satyagraha: non-violent non-cooperation with evil. To real classroom teachers of History, English, and Math I recommend credit by exam. Tell your students that they may move as quickly through the material as they wish. Read the assigned material (Histroy textbook, British and American novels, whatever) or (Math) pass the final and they can spend the rest of the year in the library or in the Auto Shop teacher's classroom. Students will work for freedom.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Anonymous: "'In the aggregate, 'schools' do a better job of nurturing kids than parents do. Schools provide a safe environment in the era of 'terrorism'...' To check this out, check your local newspaper for the last N months. How many murders and other 'crimes against children' were committed in schools.' How many were committed in homes and around homes? Irrespective, of where you live schools will win every time."

False. Juvenile hospitalizations for human-induced trauma rise when school is in session. Studies of homeschoolers find them better socialized than conventionally schooled children. A simple analogy makes the error in the anonymous argument clear: More people die from attack by people than die from attack by sharks, but I would prefer to walk the length of Kalakaua boulevard at midnight 100 times than swim the mouth of Pearl Harbor at midnight once.

Dick Schutz said...

Well, Malcolm. You've dodged all Parry's questions, and missed or misinterpreted the positions he's submitting.

Goodbye, Malcolm, and godspeed.

Hello,again, Parry, and everyone else.

Of course, "choice" is a good thing--irrespective of the matter or who is doing the choosing. The question is "choice of what?"

The history of "busing," "magnet schools," "charter schools" "parochial schools" "private schools," "DOD schools" (which incidentally, are REALLY "government schools" and really pretty good. But that's a whole nother story.) and any other flavor of school indicates that you get SELECTION as a cconsequence. But you also get some additional questionable consequences, such as increased segregation and inequality of non-instructional services.

When you factor out selection (observationally rather than statistically factor it out), you really don't see any dramatic differences in instructional performance. You see nudges in the normal distribution, but not dramatic curve-breaking differences. And you don't see any instructional gains in performance over time.

Why?

Because when you cut through the rhetorical fog, and the instructional materials litter, you see commonality rather than differences.

All of the standardized achievement tests are alike in that they are based on decades-obsolete "trait and factor theory" which does not permit any other than a normal distribution. This doesn't bother those at the top of the EdChain who should know better. They define "proficiency" in terms of arbitrary cut scores on the normal distribution and go right on testing.

These tests are used as instructional accomplishment indicators irrespective of the "flavor" of the "school choice." The choice
is illusory, or at best cosmetic.

The thread has been over the matter of "standards," but let's hash it a minute from a different angle. However expressed, all of the "standards" in all of the states and localities employ the same set of cookie cutters. "National" standards would just recognize the de facto national standards.

And when you look at States such as Texas, which has just gone through several years of political struggle to change standards in "English Language Arts and Reading" and is now struggling with "Science," what do you see?

In ELAR the "big issue" was "what books to put on the reading list." In Science, the issue is over the "strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory." The great bulk of the standards remain unchanged, untouched by instructional experience over the last 8 year cycle.

With standards as with tests, purported differences and changes are illusory or cosmetic.

Look at textbooks in reading and math. This thread is not the place to do that in detail. But what you'll see is that a few publishers dominate, and their "resources" are all very similar. More importantly, they're all structured to support the "normal distribution" of results.

Whether in tests, standards, or instructional materials, what's being reported as happening isn't what's happening.

An alternative?

To operationally improve instructional performance, one has to specify an observable consequence to be achieved. If you don't have any control over the means of achieving that consequence, you'll get a normal distribution of accomplishment. That distribution is always observed when the determinants are multiple and complex.

To change that distribution to one in which performance piles up at the top, you have to change instructional products/protocols. You can't change personnel or organizational structures. You have to instruct with the wherewithal you have, not with the personnel and organizational structure you'd like to have.

When you do make changes to instructional product/protocols, whaddya know? You do get better performance. This is not a new orientation. It's the standard engineering orientation that has led to improvement in every sector of life.

Until it becomes more widely recognized that we lack weapons of mass instruction--that we don't know how to reliably deliver kids who can read and do math through algebra--let alone the fancy "higher order" pipe dreams--it seems to me we'll remain in the rhetorical fog and that politics, not pedagogy will continue to rule at every governmental level.

There may well be other alternatives, but this one is "tried and true."

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Parry: "What is the alternative system (or collection of systems) that you would propose that would more effectively ensure that all of the children in our country are successfully educated?"
Malcolm: Parent Performance Contracting and credit by exam.
Dick: "You've dodged all Parry's questions, and missed or misinterpreted the positions he's submitting.

Looks like an answer to me. The problem is, my answers aren't specific enough to satisfy people used to prescriptive, State-imposed policies. It's like proposing to replace State (government, generally)-operated collective farms, State-operated grocery stores, and State-operated soup kitchens with a free market in agriculture and groceries, and Food Stamps, and responding to the question "Will the lettuce go under or on top of the cold cuts in the sandwiches that people make for themselves in these free-market buffets?" with "I neither know nor care".

As I wrote earlier, Soviet economic planners asked what mechanism determines prices in a market economy. "Freedom" did not look like a mechanism. But it is, and it works.

Gerard Lassibile and Lucia Navarro Gomez
"Organization and Efficiency of Educational Systems: some empirical findings" (p. 16)
__Comparative Education__, Vol. 36 #1, 2000, Feb.
"Furthermore, the regression results indicate that countries where private education is more widespread perform significantly better than countries where it is more limited. The result showing the private sector to be more efficient is similar to those found in other contexts with individual data (see, for example, Psucharopoulos, 1987; Jiminez, et. al, 1991).
This finding should convince countries to reconsider policies that reduce the role of the private sector in the field of education
".

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

A measure of the elements of a set is an order relation on that set.
A test is a procedure or device for establishing a measure.
A standard is a unit of measurement. A kilogram weight is a standard. A meter stick is a standard.
A standardized test is a test which expresses it's result in terms of a specified unit.

Standardized tests permit inter-group comparisons. For this reason, system insiders shun standardized tests as vampires shun garlic.

Schultz: "To operationally improve instructional performance, one has to specify an observable consequence to be achieved. If you don't have any control over the means of achieving that consequence, you'll get a normal distribution of accomplishment. That distribution is always observed when the determinants are multiple and complex."

Pretty close. You get a normal distribution when the measure depends on numerous independent variables, no one of which is significantly larger than any of the others. Toss 100 pennies. Let H=1 and T=0. Sum. Repeat 100 times. You will get (approximately) a normal distribution. Repace one penny with a 50 cent piece and give THAT H a value of 50 and THAT T a value of 0. Your distribution is no longer normal.

Parry Graham said...

Malcolm,

This is going to be my final post. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to explain your ideas and engage in this conversation. Unfortunately, I think we’ve reached a point where the dialogue is no longer productive. From my interpretation, there are several key points on which we fundamentally disagree, and our disagreement in those areas prevents the conversation from moving forward in a constructive fashion.

First, you appear to believe that public education is, at its heart, a conspiracy foisted on the American taxpayer by a confederation (you use the word “cartel”) of national, state, and local unions, whose express purpose is financial gain and not student learning. As evidence of this conspiracy, you cite the fact that states do not allow 6-year-olds to take the GED and drop out of school. I am not persuaded by that evidence.

Second, you appear to believe that a significant number of parents in this country, given the inducement of a $10-12K tax credit, would choose to quit their jobs, pull their children out of school, and homeschool their children (via parent performance contracts). Furthermore, you appear to believe that these parents would achieve higher levels of educational success with their children, despite little to no formal training or background in advanced curricular content or instructional decision-making (which have, incidentally, been shown time and again by numerous research studies to have a sizable impact on student learning), because parents are better able to motivate their children to learn because they love their children and have known them since birth. I have no doubt that a sub-set of parents have the inclination, the means, and the ability to educate their children beyond levels that would be attained by their local public schools. I fundamentally question, however, the scalability of homeschooling as a viable educational alternative for large numbers of families and children.

Finally, you state that “It does not take 12 years to teach a normal child to read and compute.” This suggests to me that you believe that, once they have developed basic skills in reading and math (say what might commonly be expected by the time a child turns 10 or 11), most children are capable of going off independently into the world (“post-secondary institutions or qualified private-sector employers”) and achieving success. Again, I disagree.

Thanks again for the conversation.

Parry

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Parry: "First, you appear to believe that public education is, at its heart, a conspiracy foisted on the American taxpayer by a confederation (you use the word “cartel”) of national, state, and local unions, whose express purpose is financial gain and not student learning...I am not persuaded by that evidence".

Pretty much.

Randall G. Holcombe
Government: Unnecessary but Inevitable
The Independent Review Volume 8 Number 3 Winter 2004

Eduardo Zambrano
Formal Models of Authority: Introduction and Political Economy Applications
Rationality and Society, May 1999; 11: 115 - 138.
"Aside from the important issue of how it is that a ruler may economize on communication, contracting and coercion costs, this leads to an interpretation of the state that cannot be contractarian in nature: citizens would not empower a ruler to solve collective action problems in any of the models discussed, for the ruler would always be redundant and costly. The results support a view of the state that is eminently predatory, (the ? MK.) case in which whether the collective actions problems are solved by the state or not depends on upon whether this is consistent with the objectives and opportunities of those with the (natural) monopoly of violence in society. This conclusion is also reached in a model of a predatory state by Moselle and Polak (1997). How the theory of economic policy changes in light of this interpretation is an important question left for further work."

Parry: "Second, you appear to believe that a significant number of parents in this country, given the inducement of a $10-12K tax credit, would choose to quit their jobs, pull their children out of school, and homeschool their children (via parent performance contracts)...."

Parent Performance Contracting (PPC) replaces bureaucrats with parents in educational decisionmaking. Parents may homeschool, hire tutors, or pay tuition to independent or parochial schools. There is no requirement that parents themselves provide instruction between 0800 and 1430.

Parry: "...Furthermore, you appear to believe that these parents would achieve higher levels of educational success with their children, despite little to no formal training or background in advanced curricular content or instructional decision-making (which have, incidentally, been shown time and again by numerous research studies to have a sizable impact on student learning), because parents are better able to motivate their children to learn because they love their children and have known them since birth. I have no doubt that a sub-set of parents have the inclination, the means, and the ability to educate their children beyond levels that would be attained by their local public schools. I fundamentally question, however, the scalability of homeschooling as a viable educational alternative for large numbers of families and children".

a) PPC requires demonstrated performance.
b) Homeschooling parents can buy crystalized expertise in the form of books and CDs.
c) Studies which find a significant contribution to student performance by teacher factors compare effective teachers to ineffective teachers, not to parents. Earlier in this discussion I wrote: "In Alaska, homeschooled children enrolled in 'virtual' (correspondence) government schools outperform chidren enrolled in conventional schools. The median score of homeschoolers is close to the 80th percentile score of conventionally-schooled children. Homeschooled children of parents with no education beyond high school outperform the students of college-educated teachers in conventional Alaskan government schools. Alaska has (had, when I looked) the highest 90th percentile score (NAEP 8th grade Math) of any State, so the "sample self-selection" argument doesn't work as an objection to the parent control hypothesis."

Parry: "Finally, you state that “It does not take 12 years to teach a normal child to read and compute.” This suggests to me that you believe that, once they have developed basic skills in reading and math (say what might commonly be expected by the time a child turns 10 or 11), most children are capable of going off independently into the world (“post-secondary institutions or qualified private-sector employers”) and achieving success. Again, I disagree."

Please read this one page Marvin Minsky comment on school.
Please read this article on artificially extended adolescence by Ted Kolderie.

Dick Schutz said...

Let's see if we can tack the boat toward something more productive. Today's kids are not what we are--or were. And the world that they will be living in is not what ours has been.

See a new MacArthur Foundation Report, "Living and Learning
with New Media."

http://www.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7BB0386CE3-8B29-4162-8098-E466FB856794%7D/DML_ETHNOG_WHITEPAPER.PDF

I draw two inferences from the report.

One. The combination of Info Tech and kids is going to change schooling irrespective of "policy" and political wrangling internal and external to the profession.

Two. Any way you look at it, reading expertise is the portal to both academic and non-academic choice. In the Internet age, an individual of any age who can read can independently choose real alternatives.

Of course adult guidance is needed, and some alternatives are better than others. But what "adults" can present, are real options. That is, "IF this is what you want to do/be in the future, THEN here's what you're going to have to do, STARTING NOW. If you want to do/be something else, let's talk about that."

We're beyond "standards" "accountability" "reform" and so on. Well, that's not quite true. We're up to our ears with these matters, but there'd no justification for being so occupied. We're arguing about how to conduct last century's schooling.