Published: Friday, Nov. 30 2012 12:00 a.m. MST
I agree that this requires not doing more of the same. I further agree that per
pupil spending can be a difficult measure to apply. Comparing the state with
Iowa might be reasonable (but the article did not do so directly). Comparing it
with Washington DC (which is not a state and has only an urban population) is
ridiculous.As to where to go next? Other articles in the DN have
cited success in other countries. Certainly there are states that do better as
well. So, before we rush off to develop new and untried programs, why not spend
a bit of time looking at what is working right now elsewhere? And, if that
requires more money to implement, then let's be honest and say so.Starting with the concept that more money is not needed but
"disruptive" technologies and methods are is foolish. First, let's
assess the problem fully, see how others have successfully answered similar
questions, and then handle the budgetary issues.It's not really
so complex (unless we already know the answer we want to end up with).
Radical thinking? In Utah? Really?
The problem has more to do with attitude and perception than anything else. How
do we change the attitude of Latino parents and students that education is
important? How do we change the perception in the Latino community that
parental involvement is the key to a successful education. Unless we can change
this....money will be thrown at the wall with very little results.Our American society rewards "celebrities and sports heros" we do not
reward scientists, teachers and engineers. Quite the contrary. Teachers are
some of the lowest paid college grads. Until society decides that teachers
should be rewarded for the jobs they do with a better wage than managers an
McDonalds,nothing will change.
Thinking in general may help. We need to stop villifying education and
knowledge, and trying to replace it with superstition.
"It may mean changing how students are advanced through the system, basing
advancements on performance and mastery rather than on time spent in a
classroom"So, not RADICAL thinking--RATIONAL thinking.
You're not going to get ANY parents to sign off on that. It would mean that
as parents, they would actually have to take a daily interest in their
child's schooling process. As a former teacher, I guarantee you that not
going to happen for these students. For students who need the most
help it's always, regardless of background/race/age, ALWAYS those parents
who shows up in the classroom saying, "That's not my job. You're
the teacher," and "My kid doesn't listen to me. You're the
teacher." But they'll also be the first one petitioning the principal
or the school board if you hold their kid accountable and fail them/hold them
back. Graduation rates aren't an education
problam--they're a parent problem
Less students per classroom and more spent per student would be a good start! We
rank last in per student spending and have one of the largest number of students
per classroom. Does not take a Rocket Scientist to see the problem!
Look at Finland for answers on improving academic achievement. The Finns are
regularly in the top 3 internationally, along with South Korea and Singapore,
but they approach education quite differently than the "tiger mom" /
maximum discipline approach.First of all, there are frequently two
teachers in each class, and they keep the same kids for Kindergarten through the
6th grade. Teachers are expected to be professionals, masters in educating, and
they alter their teaching style to fit the learning styles of their students.Class sizes are a lot smaller, kids get focused attention.
Interestingly, they do very little testing, which means teachers aren't
incentivized to "teach to the test". Kids actually learn.Utah would need to devote a lot more resources to emulate the model of
Finland, but it's a system that works exceedingly well. What exactly are
bossysheryl: "Graduation rates aren't an education problem -
they're a parent problem"I agree. But non-HS graduates
become a societal problem, so maybe society has an interest in finding out ways
to improve the situation(?).
The lack of correlation between money spent and graduation rates underlies the
problem that the educational establishment ignores. Comparing the US (large
heterogeneous population) to Finland (small homogeneous population) is an
exercise in futility. We are focusing on the wrong issue and as long as that
persists, things will not improve. Spending more on education is worthwhile as
long as we have an evidence-based oversight of how effective the programs were.
We have had enough of cash for clunkers and other "good ideas" where the
federal government wasted billions of our tax dollars. Utah should do better.
Owl,No doubt there are plenty of examples (private and public) where
there has been little ROI. But there is certainly a correlation between
investment and outcomes. Don't believe it? Then cut the funding to zero -
if there is NO correlation, you will get the same results as now, right? Of
course not. So we know there is a correlation. But that correlation is
loose.To make valid comparisons we need to look at similar states
where costs and urbanization are not so different as to defeat the comparison.
Once you have that data pool, THEN we can begin looking at what affects results
and what does not.So, more money obviously does not always mean
better results. But if we find (as seems logical) that more staff helps, that
means money. Or that we want better trained staff who are more results
oriented, that means we are going to have to pay those folks more (they have
more at risk and have a greater educational investment).The oft
repeated economic mantra is "there is no free lunch". If we want more,
it is probable that it will require more resources (AKA money). Just the way it
The editorial board said that money is not an issue. I disagree. Money is an
issue. If it wasn't, then the per pupil spending would be $1 per student.
The question should be: At what point does money no longer become the issue?
In Utah, I believe that money has become an issue. When many teachers have
classes of 40+ students, something is wrong. When class sizes reach a certain
point, it becomes crowd control, not teaching. When teachers only have class
sets of reading material(novels texts, etc), obviously money is an issue. When
teachers do not have access to technology, money is an issue. Utah is expected
to be below Puerto Rico (a 3rd world U.S. protectorate) in student spending in
the coming years, and that is downright scary and it signifies that money is an
issue. I do agree that we need need radical thinking to solve
education problems in Utah, but the best radical thought in Utah would be to
provide more money to education. That is such a radical notion, that the state
will never do it, and the editorial board will trivialize it.
I'm not sure if this is "radical" but I think if class sizes were
smaller that the students would do better...
OK, here is your radical idea: Try freedom.Compulsion-based
education can only take us so far.1. Compulsion kills incentive - the old
Soviet Union's economic planning should have taught us this. Research shows
that an alarmingly high number of high school and college graduates never read a
book from cover to cover for the rest of their lives! 2. Compulsion
fosters amorality - cheating (and its twin, lying) are all-pervasive in
today's schools. The kids don't see it as immoral, it's just how
you play the game.3. Compulsion is efficient, but not effective. You can
no more force a child to become educated than you can force him to become an
artist or an engineer.So, the radical idea is that we try a PROVEN
method of education based on freedom and self-government (how did America have
any other kind?) Google "freedom-based education and America's blind
spot" and watch the half-hour video explaining this in much greater
detail.We American's just TALK about freedom, we don't
really want it for ourselves or our children. Your response to the above video
will prove my point.
In Finland, they do have two qualified teachers in most classrooms, they attract
and maintain the best teachers through higher salaries and teachers are
RESPECTED professionals vs. the derision and poor pay they get now. They have
smaller class sizes. I think those two things require investment of MONEY! Now
to save money, also do what they do in Finland, end these ridiculous
standardized tests. That would save huge money to do the other things.
Utah has 3 Massive problems in our schools:1) To many young,
inexperienced teachers. We hire them because they are cheap, not because they
are effective. When we lived back east, the best school systems had mostly
highly qualified, experienced teachers. The few young teachers were mentored by
the best, most effective teachers.2) Too many students per
classroom3) Too low of expectations from parents and the schools
for our childrenThe first two problems will require more money. We
are not in Iowa where land, homes and the cost of living are substantially less.
Utah has skimped by for too long.The last problem requires zero
dollars to solve. My friends back East, in Asia and Europe all have
SUBSTANTIALLY higher expectations for their children's educations than I
have seen here in Utah. Maybe it is the large families, maybe it is other
priorities, and maybe it is cultural. I don't know exactly. But I see
less expected of children in terms of effort, quality of work and actual
learning by both parents and schools/teachers.We need to do better -
or the next generation will not be able to compete globally or maintain their
standard of living.
Radical thinking indeed!! We need a paradigm overhaul. What if schools are held
accountable for knowing, and growing, student engagement-which ultimately drives
everything related to school success? What is being done now is not working to
identify students at risk of dropping out. We need a new paradigm-STUDENT
ENGAGEMENT! The bottom line is any student who does not graduate is a travesty!
We can give our at-risk students a voice by tapping into the reasons
"why" a student becomes disengaged and provide interventions to support
students to reengage or increase engagement to pursue an educational goal. I
have been a teacher for 28 years and I've developed the Scale of Student
Engagement/Disengagement(SOS ED), which empowers students to self-identify their
level of school engagement by responding to items that are scored and converted
into an engagement score. In a university research study, the SOS ED was
reliable and valid in identifying student engagement levels. Please check out
the video explaining the SOS ED and how it works at YouTube Scale of Student
Engagement or visit www.scaleofstudentengagement.com. Please email me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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