Thursday, July 05, 2007


Education is an issue I don't know terribly much about. My knowledge tends to boil down to a couple of things, we spend ever increasing amounts of money on public education and exercise ever increasing centralized control of education but have no improvements to show for our investments. I would like for candidates that promise increased funding to actually demonstrate how these increases will translate into better results. Unfortunately education policy seems to parallel our approach with international aid, cashing a check on behalf of our guilty consciences.


archduke f. f. said...

The problem with education expectations is that there aren't universal metrics that you can use in order to determine whether progress is being made. Every test that you give must be different from the one the year before in order to deter cheating, and as such all the scores will be subjective based on the test.

In addition, economic inequality must be taken into account when testing. There is a story--and this may be apocryphal, but the source seemed reliable--that students in Harlem/South Side of Chicago/any lower economic/predominantly black area (I can't recall which one) were being given an English test and one of the short essay questions was "Explain the rules of doubles tennis." In another test, a vocabulary question was asked that went something like, "What is a country club?" In fields like English and reading comprehension, this sort of thing is common and creates a wide divergence in scores between those in the lower economic tier with those in the upper economic tier. While we'd like to say "at least we have mathematics," you also get divergences because of sex. I'm not saying that girls aren't as proficient as boys, but the mere fact that people suggest that girls are less apt makes them do poorly because of internalized expectations. (here's the study, but it's the google cache page, so I don't know if it will keep working Study

The ways to fix the public education system are this: convince the teachers unions to craft new rules that make it easier to get rid of shitty teachers. Pay teachers who perform better a whole lot more. Forgive student loans of high-achieving students who promise to teach for X number of years.

xtrachromosomeconservative said...

Unfortunately items 1 and 2 are at odds the teachers' unions raison d'etre- namely to exist. Getting rid of crappy teachers reduces membership and paying good teachers more is fodder for dissension within the unions.