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Here's a statement of the obvious: The opinions expressed here are those of the participants, not those of the Mutual Fund Observer. We cannot vouch for the accuracy or appropriateness of any of it, though we do encourage civility and good humor.

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  • edited February 2021
    racq: "Thanks for the links; I'll take a look at the movie (documentary?)."

    Yeah, documentary, like I said in my prior post...

    The first was deeply dived into in the iconic, must see, 2010 documentary, Waiting for "Superman". Despite its critics, hard to express/expose the deep rooted issues and possible solutions any better than that.

    Pretty shocking to me that someone who made the previous post that you did, in which you stated

    "David, if you're not a teacher (and have never been one?), you can't begin to argue the issue with any insight..."

    is the same person who now states (in effect) he's not seen this landmark documentary.

    So, allow me to say, please STOP posting anything else about this issue until YOU get up to speed on the now 10+ year old documentary that crystalized the US education system issues for the world.

    BTW, I know probably 50 retired teachers and NONE of them has NOT seen this documentary. So you're the first.

    This may all sound a bit "snarky" but here's the thing...I searched this thread for the one word that MUST appear in ANY discussion about the root problem(s) in order that I spend any real time on it. Amazingly, that word does NOT appear anywhere in this thread. If/when it does, I may engage in the discussion further.
  • Excellent comments but perhaps discussions of solutions for the dysfunctional US educational system might be better suited for the Off-Topic thread.
  • Making statements ex cathedra, again, David. Pompous asshole. That's why I hate to agree with you in this instance.

    Gotta have standards. And I'm not talking about Covid-environment standards. If kids don't learn or just have not much ability in a particular subject, REQUIRE them to take another shot at it, after they flunk the first time. If the 2nd shot doesn't work either, give a low passing grade to him/her. You don't want to screw up a kid's entire future, assuming he's doing well otherwise. I remember my gift-grade in Algebra. On the other hand, my A in Art History felt good. I ate it up. But I also knew I'd never be an artist.

    Chronic discipline problems need to be excised. Teachers are teachers, not infantry. But I've seen quite enough already to know that today's teacher's do indeed deserve combat pay. Send the feral ones to the community's "alternative" school. Or they get a GED on their own. A GED shows something, anyhow. And if a student prefers the trades, fine. But neither does that mean they should not learn the basics of Civics, for example.
  • >> Making statements ex cathedra, again, David. Pompous asshole.

    Huh? This is you namecalling me ? I forget whether the moderators have rules about this sort of thing. Stay classy.
  • Well I watched WAITING FOR SUPERMAN, so I guess I'm now allowed to state opinions again. It throws a ton of different issues into the air, so commenting intelligently on them would take as long as the documentary. While some may choose to disagree, I saw a lot of things which agreed with what I was saying: Kids who are willing to work hard have involved parents, and who operate under reasonable levels of discipline; self-applied or otherwise, are likely to be successful. Others will tend not be. Pretty much what I said going in.

    Yes, there are systemic problems. Yes, not all teachers are 'good', work hard, etc; just like any other field. The film strongly implied that unions were a major problem. Is it worth my time to point out that many of the very worst state educational systems (per the documentary) do not have unions while some of the best do? Is it worth noting to anyone that my home district, and the one in which I taught for twenty years, was 50% minority, provided free lunch to a huge percentage of its population, and was famously the inspiration for the NY Magazine article "Welcome to Newburgh, Murder Capital of NY".

    Yet despite all of this, Newburgh integrated its schools by being one of the first NY districts to institute 'magnet schools'. While there were initially parochial schools; in time, ALL kids attended the public schools in Newburgh. People didn't flee because discipline was enforced and the educational program was superior to anything around. It was not uncommon for the very best students to graduate with a year of college credit. In my senior year, out of a class of approximately 1000, we ended up graduating 850; not the 300 and something suggested by the SUPERMAN documentary. Many of those who did not graduate chose to drop out as soon as possible and go to work. This was especially a problem with the latino population.

    Tenure is proclaimed to be a problem, and it can be in some has to ask why, after three years of observing, a district gets itself saddled with a poor teacher? Can part of the problem be poor administrator oversight? Or maybe good candidates don't grow on trees and districts have to take what they can get? Why would that be? As for getting rid of tenured teachers, the hitch seems to be that you have to document the problem, and that seems to be difficult for administrators to do (which comes back to that oversight issue).

    And if kids are being "passed along" and the school "failing" as a result, it's not the teachers doing it. In these cases, they are instructed to pass the kid along. Why would unions have any effect on THAT? If you abdicate your responsibility, have no standards, refuse to accept failure or impose consequences, how could you possibly expect a favorable outcome? We absolutely need to fix the system and get good people in there, but there is no simple and painless fix.
  • Thank you for providing the link for everyone. It appears (to me) to be a pretty even-handed review/commentary, and it's nice to see some of the OTHER side of the issues being included. As I said earlier, responding to EVERYTHING said in the documentary would take as long as the documentary itself.

    In my personal experience, anecdotal as that may be, the local private schools are certainly not 'better'. Their facilities are inferior, their offerings limited, their teachers not superior in any way (I worked in a 'good' parochial school for a year). Their advantages, however, are numerous: Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, they can avoid 'them', whoever 'them' may be. Public schools must attempt to educate everyone. They can usually select and cull (expel, etc) their student population without legal restriction. Public schools cannot do this. They don't have to be subject to any kind of governmental oversight. Public schools are. With the same student population, you'd get at LEAST the same results.

    A class full of students with involved parents, who are motivated to learn, put in the time and effort, and who receive decent instruction WILL learn. Kick out one or more of those pillars, and they will not. Public school districts can have an impact on the LAST of the pillars only (and even there, behavior in the class has a negative impact). So three of the four pillars are out of the school's/teacher's control. Just saying...

  • Thanks, Lewis... That was much more complete a response than my own.
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