15 Replies to “http://www.dr-mikes-math-games-for-kids.com/blog/2012/04/barack-obamas-education-policy/”

  1. This is one area I agree with Obama in spirit, but his details are flawed, in my opinion. He is not willing to do what is truly necessary to fix our education system, which is breaking the union stranglehold on the system. No child left behind needs repealing, or fixing, but that won’t fix it, it will fix some policy, but right no an incredible amount of money, time and resources are being wasted with union bureaucratic, collective bargaining, paying teachers that can not be let in a classroom for any variety of reasons, but can not be fired due to union regulations. Last I looked into it, one very large public school system in a major metro area spends 6 million dollars a year paying teachers that don’t teach, because they can’t be fired until court cases are concluded, or other wasteful reasons…that is just one example. How many text books could 6 million dollars buy?

  2. Does it matter which? That is the problem with labor unions…much like many organizations, they start with a modest, good idea, and end up way off the mark…the concept of employee rights is a good thing, and the unions did a lot of good at one time…everything good they have done is now employment law, but now they have too much power and it’s counter productive, and has rendered much of the US uncompetitive in the global marketplace.

    The problem with teachers is that, once tenured, it’s an insane process to fire them, even when they are arrested for crimes against children, many times they are put on “paid administrative leave”, and stay there for years until a “guilty” verdict is rendered, then during appeals processes and more…they go to “work” which is basically a room where they hang out and do nothing all day, generally referred to as a “rubber room”…and waste away the day and tax dollars while doing nothing. Teachers, like most union workers, are not paid on performance, they are paid on a scale based on their seniority, how long they have been in the union…which is hardly motivation for performance…it’s a sad state of affairs. Until this is fixed schools won’t change, nor will any union shop industry.

    Oh, as I recall, the city was New York City, but I might be wrong there. Google “teacher rubber room” or something similar, it’ll be very disturbing…it is true.

    As I see it, the answer to quality and cost is always competition…not some silly misguided policy or law…we already have enough of those.

  3. I agree that it’s important to reward teacher’s based on performance. However, as I blogged elsewhere, measuring teacher performance is very difficult, since the real goal of teaching is to prepare students for a long-term future.

  4. Yeah, that can be tricky, just on test scores is not the way, clearly, but that is what parents and school administration, such as principals are for. Without personal accountability and performance reward, it’ll never improve cuz there is no motivation.

  5. It seems to me that at least one of the major problems with the schools is that principals and other administrators aren’t particularly good at their jobs either. There isn’t any easy solution, I don’t think – test scores as a measure of teacher effectiveness aren’t really optimal, and can penalize teachers who work with kids who are significantly behind their peers or have behavior problems. And being a teacher in many school districts can mean poor pay, long hours and little respect from parents and the public.

    So I think it’s an interesting exercise to see where candidates stand on public school policy. Are they for improving the system? or do they want to abandon it (like Santorum’s “everyone should be homeschooled’ stance)?

  6. True…my wife is a teacher, and a darn good one based on all measures I have seen, but you still get the parents who refuse to accept any criticism of their kids, even constructive or suggestion of possible issues (ADD, Autism, etc) and blame the teacher…

    I do know this, the quality of education has gone downhill since various factors have come into play in American society:

    – The increase of two working parent families

    – Increase in rate of single involved parent situations

    – The introduction of the federal department of education

    – The removal of disciplinary rights and options for teachers

    All have lead to sweeping decrease in student performance and broad brush answers to small brush problems.

    Politicans will make talking points of education, but none have any real desire, or enough guts, or enough support, to make the necessary changes to help anything, ultimately, regardless of the side of the aisle, they want government reliant masses of uneducated fools.

  7. If the necessary changes in the system require any major change in the status quo or – maybe more importantly – an investment of money or resources, it would probably be unwise for politicians who want to be re-elected to stick their necks out too far. It’s too easy for opponents to spin any suggestions into something dastardly.

  8. True, as there are a lot of cronies and insiders making money by wasting time and resources within the federal department of education, as one example, but it’s not only system changes, it’s also the very fabric of American society that needs changing…the “more me now” mentality has made it commonplace for two parents to work to achieve what is considered an “average” American lifestyle, which creates uninvolved parents…likewise, the litigious and very thin-skinned society with no personal responsibility has also led our education system to work defensively, and taking away most rights teachers had to control their classroom behavior for fear of being sued by some over-protective, narcissistic parent that is SURE their kid does no wrong…so we, as a society, in my opinion are somewhat to blame as well for what we have let people get away with without consequence, and in some cases, even rewarding.

  9. My son goes to an “independent public school”. There, the principal runs the show, has full say about hiring and firing, and a bunch of other things – as opposed to an ordinary public school, where staffing is determined by the ed department.

    I think the “independent public school” concept is great, not specifically because I think the principal is always going to be the best one to decide these things, but because it will encourage some form of experimentation, with the opportunity to discover after the fact what works and what doesn’t, and therefore the opportunity to take what works and duplicate it to other schools.

    Do you have such a thing where you are?

  10. We have the same thing here, generally called “charter schools”…we tried that with our youngest, epic failure, I still believe in the concept, just not that school…we also have private schools (which I went to) but most are religious based, and I am not interested in that, personally, just a good education.

  11. No, Charter Schools are “public schools”, the money to fund them comes from the public coffers per head count, just like other public schools, but they do not operate under the same union driven system of the typical public school.

  12. Yeah, that is fortunate…we got a horrible teacher, who was subsequently removed from the classroom which is a good part, they could…public school teachers union wouldn’t have allowed it.

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