Oprah: The Falling State of America's School

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Lex, Apr 12, 2006.

  1. Lex

    Lex
    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,536
    Likes Received:
    16
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    In Your Darkest Thoughts and Dreams
    Oprah is doing a two part show on this topic. I caught the tail end of yesterday's show and will definitely be watching today. Her timing (as with the male sexual abuse) never fails.

    Here is the link. There is a lot ot read and see there.

    Some exerpts:
    Bill and Melinda Gates point to an obsolete education—built for the industrial age, not the digital age—as a keystone to the problem. The Gates Foundation pointedly asks, "What good is it for kids to graduate in 2006 from a school system that was designed for 1956?"

    They also did a "School Swap" between students.

    Time Magazine is also all over schools this week.
    The Byline:

    The number of high school students who leave before graduating is higher--much higher--than you think. Inside one town's struggle to reverse the tide


    Like Oprah, I believe that is does not matter if my kids go to a great school while so many kids across the nation go to crappy schools. Until we can guarantee every child a excellent education, we will reap what we sow.

    I am interested in speaking on the state of American education.
     
  2. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2002
    Messages:
    83,922
    Likes Received:
    34
    It's amazing. Kids these days can't even spell 'dhu.'
     
  3. PussyWellington

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2006
    Messages:
    548
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    13
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Asia/Australia
    School is about Discipline and following the "rules", and passing standardized tests. Education and the spread of intellectualism are sorely missing from most schooling systems. Children are encouraged to be materialistic, conscious about their image, and to only care about themselves.

    Children these days look at school and "work" as boring and a waste of their time, which they usually hold onto throughout life and continue down a path of intellectual laziness. Learning should be fun and a pleasure to do, but a combination of teachers, parents, administration; and on a somewhat bigger level the national governments are not doing their part to ensure future generations don't grow up "dumb".

    Personally, I don't believe that the public school system will never get any better, and I feel it is deliberate. Get the tinfoil hat ready....... read "Future Shock" by Alvin Toffler, which went into a lot of detail concerning the intentional "dumbing down" of the general population in order to create a 2 caste system. William Bennett has also written some good books regarding the dumbing down of American Education.

    Then there are the parents who see school as a cheap child care system. You can dump them there for 6 to 8 hours a day and they are someone elses problem. This allows parents to avoid all the unpleasent duties of teaching them morals and social behaivour and even gets them out of the embarrassing questions on "where babies come from".

    The school system is clearly not about getting people to think or learn, its a little production-worker farm churning out good little worker-robots who obey orders and deadlines.




     
  4. DC_DEEP

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Messages:
    9,029
    Likes Received:
    12
    Having taught in public schools some years back, I have a few thoughts on the "decline" of public education. The two biggest problems that I saw were: 1) Too many parents treat their children as the boss in the home, and expect the same thing to occur at school. Teachers are expected to magically impart knowledge to disruptive and obedient children at the same time, without discipline, without "hurting his feelings", without requiring homework; and 2) Legislators, rather than educators, setting scholastic standards. Oh, yeah, and funding.

    Federal and state boards of education, as well as local school boards, should be comprised of active classroom teachers, and should be structured somewhat like the US Senate, but with term limits. In for four years, and then back to the classroom to reap the benefits of their time in administration. The terms of service would be rotating, so that 3/4 of the group would have experience, while 1/4 would be learning the ropes.

    Of all the professions that require state licensing and continuing education, teachers get by far the lowest pay, but are expected to work miracles and make every student a shining star - whether he wants to be or not - but don't hurt his self-esteem by telling him you are disappointed because you know he can perform better.

    It is disappointing that people are so quick to point the accusing finger at the teachers, but so reluctant to make it a profession that encourages competition. Teaching is hard work, folks, make no mistake. My typical day was be at work by 7:00, be on campus duty from 7:00 to 7:30, teach the students and manage the classroom until lunch at 11:30, back in class at 12:00, campus duty from 4:00 until the last students were gone (or help students after school), home at 5:00, dinner at 5:30, read homework assignments/grade tests from 7:00 to 9:00, check the course content guides and revise lesson plans from 9:00 until 10:00, sleep about 7 hours, and do it all again the next day. Twice a month I had to ensure that I got my continuing education credits or lose my license. All this for a fabulous $18,000 the first year, and minor increments each following year. Uh huh, that's the way to quick riches, right?
     
  5. Lex

    Lex
    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,536
    Likes Received:
    16
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    In Your Darkest Thoughts and Dreams
    My last year of classroom teaching, I made 33K a year with my Master's Degree in Special Education. The people working their asses off in these schools are not there to get rich (as DC Deep stated)--they are there to make a difference. Sad, that they often bear the brunt of trying to fix problems beyond their control with limited resources and training.

    This is key. There is nothing more obnoxious inour country than the fact that anyone who went to school thinking they know best how to fix them or that there are not problems in them.

    I also point to educators here (including myself). Had we found a way to measure and demonstrate efficacy and acheivement, we would not have everyone doing it for us.

    Also--we seem to think that anyone can teach and this is totally perposterous. I have seen naturals with no experience who was awesome diamonds in the rough and degreed individuals who had no business being in front of children.

    This is a multi-facted issue with a lot of confounding factors. I will highlight two here:
    1. Funding--schools being funded by property taxes ensures that students in rural and urban settings will always have less than their middle- and upper class counterparts. Per pupil expenditure numbers are misleading. To be clear, you have to examine how much a district speands (per pupil expenditure) versus how much they have avaiable to spend per child (per pupil wealth). I have attached a picture of some numbers in Maryland.
    2. Unions--Unions sometimes fight good change to keep status quo. Unions protect bad teachers (with letigious due process) and inhibit pay based on performace through cries of equity. Two people with 5 years teaching experience are not the same quality of teacher. One person could have had the same teaching experience 5 years ina row, while the other had 5 years of growth. Under most union pay structures--they will both earn the same pay. I have a principal friend who had a teach choke a student in fron of other studets and witness and she could not fire him due to union protections; the most that happened was he was transferred.
    We have to do something. We have to.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. DC_DEEP

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Messages:
    9,029
    Likes Received:
    12
    Just as a post-script to my previous post: the school district I taught in was a small, rural one. The entire faculty consisted of:

    Elementary (K - 6), 12 teachers.
    Jr/Hi school (one campus):
    English: 3
    Math: 2
    Science: 2
    History/Social Studies: 2
    Business/Technology/Econ: 1
    Foreign language: 1

    and shared by K - 12:
    Football: 4 full-time, one assistant
    Basketball: 2 full-time, one assistant
    Art: 1
    Music: 1/2 (the music teacher spent the morning in one school district, and the afternoon in a neighboring small district, co-op program)

    The athletic faculty was more than half the entire faculty of the secondary school. This shows where the priorities were.
     
  7. chico8

    chico8 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2006
    Messages:
    761
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Chico
    It also shows how little attention is given to the health of the student body. High school athletics have become little more than subusidised training for pro sports while ignoring the health and well-being of the student body.
     
  8. Gisella

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Messages:
    4,872
    Likes Received:
    23
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    I saw the last part of it and planning watching today too.

    Lex i remember you and what you said here when i saw it...did not know about the situation at all.
     
  9. nick22ca

    nick22ca Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    Oprah is a propaganda machine. If it wasn't for the issue being raised by other media (ie. Time), I wouldn't take it as something serious.
     
  10. Lex

    Lex
    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,536
    Likes Received:
    16
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    In Your Darkest Thoughts and Dreams
    I walk in schools weekly Nick. There are some seriously fucked up schools. In rural and urban areas.
     
  11. Lex

    Lex
    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,536
    Likes Received:
    16
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    In Your Darkest Thoughts and Dreams
    Gisella--I would never lie or be hyperbolic about the situations I see in schools when I visit. I have seen and worked in some less than desireable and humane conditions. I encourage everyone to watch the show, do independent research, and decide for themselves if our schools are okay or not.
     
  12. nick22ca

    nick22ca Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    Could you tell me what qualifies as a fucked up school then? I didn't watch Oprah and I haven't read Time.
     
  13. Lex

    Lex
    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,536
    Likes Received:
    16
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    In Your Darkest Thoughts and Dreams
    I worked in a Baltimore City Elementary School for 2 years where the stairwells reeked of urine and rat shit fell out of the ceiling tiles onto your head whenever a door was closed. The heat did not work in the winter, but blasted all spring long. The AC never worked until maybe October if you were lucky.

    The books were old and decrepid (when there were books). The student bathrooms were unusable--no toilet paper or soap. Drinking fountains could not be used (lead piping) and bottled water never kept up with demand. The sinks in the bathrooms worked--keeping the kids from drinking the leadened water was a chore.

    The hallways were littered with trash and vandalism was everywhere. When you looked out the windows to the abandoned houses behind the school, you could see the flcker of matches and lighters from people using drugs in the vacant housing all day long.

    We had to call the police twice a day to get the prostitutes to move off of the corner where the school was located--they moved across the street and came back when the cops left. When I left after work, they would stand infront of my car and shake their asses and ask me and anyone else if we "wanted some."

    That is what I meant. And I haven't ever worked at what some would consider a violent school. I never had to deal with gang issues.
     
  14. geitjeshoeder

    geitjeshoeder Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Messages:
    442
    Likes Received:
    177
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Amsterdam (NH, NL)
    The Bush-administration came up with the "Leave no child behind"-act to help public schools. Which did not change a thing. Public school systems work in the EU, Japan and China. The problem with the US public education, is that many republicans see education as a product which is bought by consumers instead of a service offered by a government. This has led to the point that to obtain a college degree one needs to have rich parents or exeptional good skills. In some cases going to Iraq could ensure you of a proper degree program. Some universities are offering special learn at the army programs for GIs at the moment.

    If the US would ever reform it's eduaction policy they should implement the very basic design of European higher education. The ECTS points system.

    ECTS offers Bachelor (BsC,BA) and Master (MsC,Ma,PhD) degrees. ECTS awards points per trimester at 60 points per year. With the first 60 points a person could switch to another course or try the same course at Master level.

    The US should also invest in incompany education. A broader cooperation between business and educators can give more people acces to jobs and keep them in college at the same time. Thus enhancing the economy.
     
  15. Onslow

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Messages:
    2,496
    Likes Received:
    3
    I have decided to nitpick just for the heck of it. You sir, claim to be part of the educational system and wish to be a part of what makes it better. With that in mind I have highlighted in red three egregious errors you made in your post.

    1) The word is exCerpt--there is a C in it.
    2)the word should be it, not is.
    3)the word is an.
    How are you planning to pull off your calling if you cannot master simple spelling and grammar? For me it is less of an issue since I am in no way affiliated with an educational institution. You however, should be ashamed of yourself.

    As to Oprah: A)She is not a parent.
    B)After the James Frey (A Million Little Pieces)
    incident, I treat most of her thoughts as being
    merely for the purpose of garnering good
    ratings and thus higher revenues.
    i.e. more money in her
    pockets.

    As to the state of the educational system in America, it has been a mixed bag for years. Some children can actually do well in the antiquitated schools and with guidance and some self initiative (where have I mentioned those before?), they will manage even if a computer is not in every classroom.

    Time for another story Lex.

    Before my recent breakdown in life, in addition to working on and off as an auto-mechanic, I worked with some disadvantaged adults. Adults of various ages, some in their 20's and one who had hit 67. What I was doing--if you must know, and I sense that you must--was teaching them the basics of operating a computer and navigating the internet. It was volunteer service at a local place and the majority of the persons who came there did so because they wanted to better their existance. That is where the difference took place Lex. They had a little something called initiative. Ever hear of that? Now, it could be argued from now until doomsday, that initiative is an innate quality. Yes and no. A person can be trained into some level of it; and yet, they need to have at least a small amount of it within themselves. Now when these two are combined with (get ready Lex here it comes again) GUIDANCE, the results are astounding.

    What I am attempting to convey to you is that the most modern text books (remember those encyclopedias my mother bought which I told you about) will do nothing, nor will a computer, if the teacher is unable to actually teach. To guide. To meld with the child. Just bringing a school up to date does not address the home life factors and try to add this into your thought process Lex. The homelife is very different these days. I submit to you that, most children who are born today and given guidance and given a homelife similar to the homelife found in the 1950s will succeed even if there is no computer in the class.

    I went to a number of schools and some were horrendous however there were always students who succeeded (how many times do I have to tell this to you?). Part of what is wrong, not only in schools but throughout the nation today, is the shift of values, and the new need for green. Everybody needs to be a multi-millionaire or else they are deemed a failure. I have a friend who has been living in a homeless shelter in New York for 3 years now. He never complains. He is slowly getting his life together and every so often a short letter arrives from him telling me how things are going. He isn't looked upon very kindly by most folks because he doesn't have a bulging wallet or wear fancy clothes or own a 'luxurious' 6th floor walkup with a brick wall view apartment. However he is head and shoulders above many of those who hold him in disdain as he is comfortable with the basics of life. He knows it is not a perfect life, but it is what he has and he is doing his darndest to get through it. (He sent a letter before I went wild and mentioned getting a place up in Pelham--somewhere in the Bronx so hopefully that's where he is now.)

    Again, education is more than just doodads and gizmos. Attention and guidance will go a lot farther that some computer in preparing a child for life.
     
  16. Matthew

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2005
    Messages:
    8,374
    Likes Received:
    162
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    California
    Pot? Kettle on Line 1.
     
  17. Lex

    Lex
    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,536
    Likes Received:
    16
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    In Your Darkest Thoughts and Dreams
    WOW. I do believe I am being trolled. Thanks for exposing yourself.
     
  18. GoneA

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2005
    Messages:
    5,176
    Likes Received:
    1
    no matthew, there was a disclaimer!

     
  19. Matthew

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2005
    Messages:
    8,374
    Likes Received:
    162
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    California
    Oh, well that makes it OK then. :rolleyes:
     
  20. Lex

    Lex
    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,536
    Likes Received:
    16
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    In Your Darkest Thoughts and Dreams
    People who prefer to take issue with my typing (I tried to use Google Bar Spell check here at LPSG--it is a disaster with WISYWIG) rather than the conditions of schools don't warrant discussion or excuse, really.

    I can take anyone on a tour of a "bad" school anytime they like.
     
Draft saved Draft deleted