Monday, January 04, 2010

Shades of Vonnegut!

If there's any truth to this article, then there's no limit to the stupidity of liberal thought regarding issues of race, equality or education. I don't know which is worse, eliminating a science department because one race excels where another doesn't, or dividing students into racial categories when judging the effectiveness of a program. Who freakin' cares which racial group is doing best? Why not just judge how many STUDENTS are benefitting and how many are failing. How can we expect our kids to develop a color-blind mentality if adults (I use the term loosely when speaking of liberal educators) refuse to ignore skin color? If a kid's failing, what difference does his color have to do with it? Answer: None whatsoever. All that matters is who's raising the kid and how good the teachers are at dealing with kids who are born to idiots.

48 comments:

Perri Nelson said...

Hmm.. I think the "Links to this post" thingy is broken. It cites a link to your post from my most recent posting.. but there's no such link in the posting. There is a link on my sidebar though, which comes from your RSS feed.

Still I agree with you. It's impossible to stop discriminating based upon race or skin color by discriminating based upon race or skin color. And yet, the liberal "intelligentsia" refuses to accept this self-evident fact.

Marshall Art said...

Perri,

Do you mean the hyperlink doesn't take you to the article? If so, here it is again. Otherwise, I don't know what you mean.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall asked...

Who freakin' cares which racial group is doing best? Who freakin' cares which racial group is doing best?

Educators. Parents. Concerned and reasonable citizens.

If one group of any sort (girls, a particular race, a particular faith group...) is doing substantially worse in an educational setting or class, then that is an indicator that something is wrong, systemically. Now the problem may not be systemic to the school - if all the Green children were starving at home, and working all night to pay bills, then that would explain a problem why all Green children are doing poorly.

Nonetheless, it indicates a systemic problem. And concerned parents, educators and citizens would want to look to see if something can be done.

Now, I haven't read your article yet. I'm just responding to your question. WHY would anyone care? Because it indicates a problem and wise people would want to address the problem if possible.

That's why.

Wouldn't you agree?

Or, to ask another question: What possible reason would we have for IGNORING the fact that a whole group of any sort of children were doing poorly? I know some people would just write it off to genetics - "well, girls just aren't good at science," "Well, black folk are just dumb that way..." but I can't imagine you falling into the category, would you?

Dan Trabue said...

From the original news story...

Berkeley High School is considering a controversial proposal to eliminate science labs and the five science teachers who teach them to free up more resources to help struggling students...

Paul Gibson, an alternate parent representative on the School Governance Council, said that information presented at council meetings suggests that the science labs were largely classes for white students. He said the decision to consider cutting the labs in order to redirect resources to underperforming students was virtually unanimous.


It seems that the point here is that there are limited resources at this school. They appear to be thinking that they have money to continue these science labs - which are helping students who appear to be doing well already - or they can close those classes to free up resources to help those who are failing.

The problem here seems to me to be a lack of resources, not a "targeting white students" problem. Ideally, they'd have the money to continue science labs AND help the struggling students instead of having to choose. But feeling they have to choose, they have chosen in favor of assisting the struggling students.

That would seem hard to fault them for.

Having said that, I can't imagine getting rid of science labs is an option - I would think there are state regulations about what classes have to be offered and it would seem that science labs would be part of that, but then I don't know that for sure.

Regardless, the problem here seems to be one of too limited resources, seems to me. I don't know that I agree with their way of freeing up resources, but it seems they're at least striving to do the right thing.

Good for them for trying to think of the "least of these..." These are tough times for our public schools, what with limited funds and all.

Edwin Drood said...

The problem is just because the school removed the science class doesn't mean the world removed science. These kids who were doing poorly are going to have to go to college and/or the workforce and there won't be anyone to remove the challenges for them.

Right now in our schools the poor and minorities (one in the same in liberal districts) are being held back by lower standards. This way they can grow up to be loyal Democrats and keep the cycle of being poor, dumb and exploited.

I wonder what is worse, ignoring the poor or exploiting them.

Dan Trabue said...

The problem is just because the school removed the science class doesn't mean the world removed science.

The problem is that this is not an accurate reflection of what's happening, according to the story. They are considering reorganizing their limited resources to HELP students achieve, not to try to remove science.

I'd say it's about equally wrong to ignore, oppress or exploit the poor, whether it's Left or Right or the Middle doing it. And when it comes to politicians, I'd suggest that it happens from all sides too frequently. It sounds like at least the people at this school district are trying NOT to do this, because they are specifically getting resources to the ones most in need, so I don't see how that question applies to this situation.

Edwin Drood said...

This being Berkley, I wonder how much time was wasted on non-academic liberal courses/indoctrination.

The fact the story exists is proof that students who only rely on public education can't cope with high school courses.

The answer is staring everyone in the face; teach the foundation of education in the early grades, reading, writing, math, science music and art (not liberal artists). Eight years of that and they will be ready for high school, of course they’ll also be Republicans.

Dan Trabue said...

No need to denigrate public schools or make unsupported swipes. They do a relatively decent job of trying to educate everyone - no mean task.

I am a product of public schools, my children attend public schools and we all are doing quite well, thank you very much. We were quite able to cope with high school and college courses (my son just completed his first semester at college - four As and one B, thank you very much, public school).

In truth, we are trying to educate all children now which is a different job than trying to educate only 50% as was the case back in the "golden days" of education (in the 1950s and earlier, according to some). In the 1950s, we were only graduating about 50% of the population from high school. In the 1940s it was only about 40% and down it goes back to the 1800s.

Trying to educate everyone - even those without much support at home, even those who are homeless (~1 in 50 children in US are homeless ), even those below the poverty level (where too often a single parent is trying to raise the child and work to pay bills all at once, not leaving much time or energy for academic support).

You get the point, I hope. It is a difficult job to try to educate all children and our schools are doing a decent job of trying. Far from perfect, but reasonable. If we'd like to put more resources in our public schools, perhaps they wouldn't have to choose between programs?

Bubba said...

According to BestPlaces.net, Berkeley doesn't skimp on public education.

"Berkeley public schools spend $7,541 per student. The average school expenditure in the U.S. is $6,058. There are about 17 students per teacher in Berkeley."

To put things in persepective, the following conclusions can be drawn from these statistics:

1) For every four dollars that the typical U.S. community spends on education, five dollars are spent in Berkeley.

2) For a 12-year education, Berkeley spends $90,000.

3) For a 17-student classroom, Berkeley spends $128,197 each year -- or more than one eighth of a million dollars.

Speculation that the problem is underfunding hardly strikes me as the result of any careful analysis of the problems of public education.

It's more likely a nervous tic of an individual whose first, last, and only instinct is more government -- except for those instances of government tyranny where the state dares to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Marshall Art said...

After reading the link Dan provided, I still have no idea regarding the numbers of kids living with no roof over their heads. What is "homeless" other than simply having no structure in which to inhabit with one's name on the mortgage or lease? A recent article of a local newspaper in my area featured a homeless family. They had a home, of course, it just wasn't their own. They were living with family (or friends---don't remember which) while the parents find employment enough to provide their own. The article spoke of how the kids are stil doing well in school. In this case at least, the parents are still putting their kids first and holding them to expectations and/or the kids are holding themselves to higher expectations.

This is the true key, not funding. Always has been and always will be. I'll stick my neck out and suggest that's been the case in the Trabue family.

But Ed's point is valid also. Are there not less important programs and/or services that could be cut rather than science?

If we assume the people of the Berkley schools are sincere (and they likely are regardless of intelligence or level of common sense), that has little to do with the wisdom, or lack thereof, of their plan of attack. This is the very same stupidity the supports the Day of Silence. Libs support protecting homo kids from bullying, conservatives support protecting ALL kids from bullying, even those who THINK they're homosexual and dealing with the bullies no matter who their targets of bullying are.

In the same way, we look at the totality of the student population and wonder how we can lift the average, not just one racial group. What of the white kids who are not succeeding in science? Are we to assume there are none? The article points to teachers concerned about the minorities who are doing well and their loss should the program be dropped. What of them? Face it. It's a stupid idea unworthy of anyone charged with the welfare of our kids.

I do not favor any program or idea that thinks equality is more important than excellence. The more we push excellence in our schools, the fewer there would be who would need assistance. This idea is the same as spreading the wealth rather than trying to increase it for all. The libs seem to seek mediocrity for all rather than excellence for as many as possible. This is Kurt's fantasy coming true.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said...

In this case at least, the parents are still putting their kids first and holding them to expectations and/or the kids are holding themselves to higher expectations.

This is the true key, not funding.


How about this: I agree wholeheartedly! Research supports this, too (I know you sometimes are leery of research, but in this case, it actually supports your point).

The single most important factor in determining a child's academic success - more than economic status, more than race or gender, more than any other factor - is support at home. (I could try to locate the source for the studies if you doubt me, but I'm guessing you are okay on this one).

So, yes, a homeless child CAN do well in school. A poor child CAN do well in school. It happens every day in the real world.

However, IF a family is homeless, then the parent(s) involved tend to have less time and energy to provide the critical support. IF a family is poor and struggling - either with the poverty or with other problems like drug abuse, child abuse, low IQ themselves, etc - then they tend to have less time and wherewithal to provide the critical support.

In THOSE cases, what can we do to help children achieve in spite of a lack of support at home? I think this is an entirely reasonable question that society does well to consider.

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Vinny said...

I think there is another distinction that is perhaps being missed. I don't think the proposal is to eliminate science classes altogether, just the science lab classes. I am guessing that the sciences would still be taught in a lecture format. When I was in high school, I took both biology and chemistry in a lecture only format because I would have had to give up other classes I wanted in order to make room for the labs in my schedule. Had I been interested in a career in science, I am sure I would have taken the lab courses.

I would personally be upset if my children's schools did not have the laboratory opportunities available for interested students, but I am sure that they are expensive to provide. The equipment must be maintained and the teachers probably can't handle as many students in labs as in lectures.

Dan Trabue said...

That's correct, Vinny, at least as the story is reported. They're talking about eliminating the expensive lab classes (not science altogether) as a resource allocation matter in order to better deal with struggling students.

I'll agree that it's not very politically correct of them to bring race into the discussion when it's really a matter of limited resources and the number of struggling students, but that's what the story is basically about, it seems like to me.

Vinny said...

If the school decided to eliminate football in order to save money and it turned out that Blacks were disproportionately represented on that team, there would surely be someone claiming that the decision was racially motivated. Of course, in that case the American Thinker would be outraged at the liberals for playing the race card.

Dan Trabue said...

Yes, one issue on the table here is PC - and to that end, Marshall et al are absolutely correct, I'd say: It wasn't very PC of the people involved to cite race as a reason for targeting the labs.

But then, Marshall et al don't usually agree with worrying about whether or not something is PC, so I wonder why now?

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

You make a good distinction between science and a particular science class, in this case, science lab. I would still suggest that there are likely other areas that could be looked at for elimination rather than something that enhances the kids' educational opportunities.

But official kudos must be withheld after your incredibly goofy suggestion that conservatives would respond differently over football. Race card? Your hypothetical is the exact same play of the card as the one in the article! I distinctly recall stating that the race of the kids is irrelevant. Further, those who contribute to the American Thinker would definitely be viewing the situation from the same perspective with the difference being that if eliminating a program must occur, removing football before science lab would be a good move.

Conservatives don't play the race card. Conservatives defend AGAINST the playing of the race card because conservatives aren't racist. Conservatives don't define a person by race. Conservatives don't judge a person by race. Conservatives don't deny a person because of race. Conservatives don't think anyone needs extra help because of their race. If you're still not clear on this point, let me know.

Marshall Art said...

In addition, Dan, conservatives worry about PC all the time. We worry that our country has been diminished by the liberal introduction of political correctness. In this case, the proposal to eliminate science labs is a PC move, not a non-PC move. Political correctness is bullshit disquised as concern. PC is the same as lying. It's deception. It has no place amongst adults. That's why one sees it promoted by liberals. In this case, PC wasn't even considered because the move to eliminate the program for the reasons given were stupid in and of itself and blatantly so. It precluded any thought of political correctness.

More evidence of your poor understanding of conservatism and conservatives.

Vinny said...

Marshall,

As far as I can tell from the article in the East Bay Express, the school never said anything about cutting the science labs because there were mostly white students in those classes. The decision was made to devote greater resources to the under performing students. It was just the luck of the draw that whites happened to be in the classes where savings were easiest to come by.

It was the American Thinker that insisted that whites were being targeted.

Edwin Drood said...

Saying you're not cutting science just the lab part is not the same as just slimming down the science curriculum. Lab is a hands on approach to learning, teachers and educations and anyone with any common sense will tell you that young people learn at a greater rate with hands on learning.

These young people who are doing well are being done a great disservice because they will not have the befit of hands on training. How will they compete in the college/job market when they are coming from a school that panders to the lowest educational denominator.

The school sees a clear division in academic performance based on race.

Liberals recognize a connection between race and culture.

Therefor from a liberal point of view, it makes sense to conclude that the culture of the non-white students is what is preventing them from achievement in the area of science.

The school has no control over the culture of the students just as it has no control over the race of the students.

The school should not be tailoring its curriculum over factors it has no control over. Science Lab should stay.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

The article speaks of the programs as being seen as favoring whites. But the AT piece is looking at it as harmful to students who excell regardless of race, by eliminating the programs for the benefit of those not excelling. It is an example of the Vonnegut story where the gifted are made mediocre to equal things out for the less gifted, thereby hurting everyone. Here's a better idea and I think I invented it: hold back the students who fail to succeed and have them repeat those classes they've failed and let the better students achieve as they can to the limits the school currently provides.

Jim said...

There is more to the story here

These labs are before and after school and a IN ADDITION TO regular science class. There are a variety of opinions among students, parents, and teachers about whether the labs could be done during class. Because going to school outside of normal hours would mean parents have to drive kids, it makes sense that more affluent students attend than less affluent.

Surprisingly, it's not all "black and white" (no pun intended).

Vinny said...

Marshall,

As any good conservative should know, the simple fact that an educational program is seen as favoring whites because more whites participate or a workplace is seen as favoring whites because more whites are employed is irrelevant. By the same token, simply because more whites than minorities are negatively effected by this decision to eliminate science labs, no one should assume that the decision is racially based. Conservatives should look for the truth of the matter.

Your idea may indeed be a better one. Too bad some moron president pushed through the "No Child Left Behind" Act that penalizes schools financially if they do things like that.

Marshall Art said...

Jim,

Good find. I'm going to send that article to the author of the AT piece. The one he references makes no mention of the labs being after school and mandatory. Seems to me that if someone is academically advanced that they could indeed accomodate him/her during the course of the normal school day by perhaps eliminating a less important requirement, like perhaps gym or a study hall (if they have those there).

Then, too, there's still the argument of whether or not it is truly a luxury for these kids to have these lab sessions. The article says some of the kids feel they could do the same things during class, and the opposing argument is that then they'd be doing the same amount of stuff in a smaller segment of time. They definitely need to look for other ways of dealing with the shortfalls than depriving those kids who are developing faster. Holding them back can actually harm them as they will become bored and disinterested. Seems to me that one never wants to discourage a kid thirsty for knowledge.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

"Conservatives should look for the truth of the matter."

And the truth of the source material the AT author divined was that advanced students are being harmed by the desire to give even more to the struggling. The issue of race was part of that source material as well. Don't kill the messenger.

"Your idea may indeed be a better one. Too bad some moron president pushed through the "No Child Left Behind" Act that penalizes schools financially if they do things like that."

But he did it arm and arm with a moron Senator from Massachusetts. The idea is sound, as it rewards excellence. It's the manner in which it does so that needs tweaking. If the school loses funding by not passing a student, then the focus should be on the student and who's teaching him. This is where the focus should always be and NCLB aimed to do that. Not moronic at all in principle. Only moronic to believe otherwise.

Perhaps it could be tweaked this way: If a student fails to perform, his parents should pay extra to have the kid retake the class. This will motivate the parent to be more involved with the kid. But of course if the teachers (or school) fails to teach, then of course they should pay and perhaps develop ways of evaluating the teachers rather than whine about losing funding. How do you propose we improve schools without holding schools, teachers, parents AND the students themselves accountable, and how do you hold them accountable without some penalty for failing to succeed? (This can also be seen as failing to realize rewards for not succeeding)

My daughter's a high school math teacher. She complained about NCLB, but also had no immediate alternatives for achieving the same goals. (She just found out one of her students was arrested on murder charges. That gives you an idea of the kind of school she serves. She loves it, but it ain't Stevenson.)

Vinny said...

Marshall,

You conservatives are so cute when you are being naive.

Do you really think that AT would bothered with the story if it had been an all white, all black, or all Hispanic school that had decided to shift some resources to struggling students? AT saw the opportunity to do a little race baiting and it jumped.

Marty said...

I think parents shoulder most of the responsibility. When my daughter was in second grade she was tested for the "gifted-talented" program called SOAR. They gave her an IQ test and she scored 146 and was accepted into the program. At the time I was totally clueless as to what that IQ score meant (in the long run, that was to my daughter's advantage...she never got the big head). When she was in the 4th grade she requested more work from the teacher and was told no. She came home crying saying she wanted more homework. So no help from the school there and supposedly in an accelerated program. I was unimpressed with the whole thing anyway. Instead of complaining and whining about it, I pulled her out of the program and put her back into normal classes with normal kids who didn't think more highly of themselves than they ought. The school counselor had a fit. I didn't care. I began taking her to the public library every two weeks until she could drive herself. By that time I had started reading profusely myself and would go with her most of the time. That's where she got her education and all it cost me was a little gas in the tank. She is a kind and generous young woman now and successful in the workplace. She has yet to get her college degree. At 31, she is still working on it. When she finally gets her degree, and she will, she will be the first in our family to do so.

I don't think you can force parents to get involved (threatening to take their programs away or charging them a fee to repeat classes) if they don't have the inclination or will to help their kids in the first place.

Marshall Art said...

Marty,

Your daughter represents the type of student that would be harmed by the removal of programs which would enhance her education, as well as feed her own desire to learn. It seems you are fortunate, like I have been with my three daughters, to have one who needs no parental involvement in order for her to succeed. She plainly wants it, craves it and best of all, goes and gets it. A teacher's dream student.

You also suggest what I have always found to be obvious, that there is education galore at the local public library and best of all, it's free. Anyone can avail themselves, but few do.

But the point is what to do with those who fail to try or try but fail nonetheless. How do we help them? Should we take from those who "get it", limiting their education and effectively making them no better than what will then be given to the slower or unwilling kids? I say no way.

There will always be kids who are last. That's because, surprise surprise, we are not equal. But if we wish to help the last, we need to find ways to do it that won't inhibit or deny the best. We need the best. They help make our nation the best.

But the value of everyone else can't be ignored. Some of them can be the best given more time or attention. Others will become productive even if they aren't "the best".

Then we have those who won't lift a finger to be even mediocre. Some are students. Others are parents. Sometimes it's both.

For the students, we need teachers who can motivate them out of their bad attitudes. For parents, charging them more money will indeed motivate them to do more.

Look. It's all about holding each other accountable in order to properly promote the kids through the school system. Or more accurately, through whatever system gives them the best chance. It's a three-way street here: teachers/schools, parents and the kids themselves. Funding for the schools should be an incentive to improve and achieve. Advancement to the next grade should be an incentive for the kids. Do well and you advance. Do poorly and you'll have to start over. In the event that a kid is doing poorly, by choice or otherwise, some financial cost to the parent to take a class over is only logical. It was "free" the first time. If the kid didn't take advantage, why should he continually be given a free ride?

Think of it this way: If you give a hungry man a plate of dinner and he chucks it out the window, he's still hungry and still in need of food. How many times are you going to give him free food if he won't take advantage of the gift? Well, YOU might empty your refrigerator, but I don't think or expect that most rational people would be willing to do so.

The goal is to get as many kids properly educated and to the highest extent as possible. I think in this area, making the real achievers sacrifice their top end potential is harmful to the future of our nation. But the ability to raise the performance of the entire student population is not a matter of money but technique. Cutting back for some to help the others won't make us a better nation.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

You're naive to continue with the fantasy that conservatives are concerned with race at all. As I said and now say again, the point of the story was what was being done to the students that were advanced for the benefit of those falling behind. Any referrence to race was pulled from the source material but was not, as I read it, meant to convey that the AT author was concerned with it. YOU like to perpetuate the myth, apparently, or you wouldn't be so keen on focussing on it.

Marty said...

It seems you are fortunate, like I have been with my three daughters, to have one who needs no parental involvement in order for her to succeed."

I'm not so sure my daughter would have succeeded without my involvement Marshall. That was the whole point of my post....parental involvement.

Marty said...

"But the point is what to do with those who fail to try or try but fail nonetheless. How do we help them?"

Here in Houston there are charter schools. I really don't know too much about them. But the best thing we can do is to volunteer our time in our neighborhood public schools as tutors or mentors. My church works with local non-profits that provide after school programs in our area to enhance education. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Marshall Art said...

Marty,

As I reread your inital comment, I still get the impression you are describing a kid who needed no parental push to achieve, that she already had it in her to do so on her own. Am I misreading things here?

For my part, I didn't mean imply that my kids got no parental involvement or input. Only that they were ambitious enough, had enough drive within that our involvement wasn't necessary if they had access to materials. We didn't have to harp on them to study to keep their grades up, or to do their homework. They'd still bitch about having homework, but they were too concerned about their grades to not do the homework. They'd anguish over a B where they hoped for a A. We had to assure them that perfection wasn't required for our love and respect for them as students and good kids. But lower grades only compelled them to work harder. Wild, isn't it? So unlike their mother and father.

As to your last comment, that's exactly what I'm talking about. Volunteering time for tutoring and mentoring are indeed better choices than to take away from those kids who are excelling. AND, volunteering only costs time.

Vinny said...

My son took enough AP classes in high school that he was able to earn almost a full semester's worth of college credit. That was certainly nice for him and it saved me some money on college tuition, but was it the best use of the school's money? Even without the AP courses, my son would have been fine.

Suppose my son had been a borderline student where a little extra help might have made all the difference whether he graduated from high school at all, much less went to college? Wouldn't I have cause to complain that the school was devoting its resources to saving college tuition for parents who could afford to pay it anyway at the expense of kids who really needed some help?

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

To answer your last question, NO. You'd have no cause to complain. What of the kid who's parents simply can't afford college but have kids who excell? They need those AP classes as much as the struggling kid needs extra assistance.

It sounds like you expect equal outcomes. That's a nice fantasy but it'll never happen and all you'll be doing is limiting the best and brightest. If it'll make you feel better, you could donate the money your kid saved you to a more needy kid. Or give it to the school so they can pay the best and brightest to tutor the struggling kids. Don't pretend you had no choice but to accept the benefit your son's work provided.

Vinny said...

Let's say I have no children in the school. Let's say I am just a taxpaying resident of the Berkeley school district. Do I want the school to spend my tax dollars on the smart kid who is going to get into college and get a good job even with out the AP classes? Or would I rather they spend the money on the troubled kid who might graduate with the skills to find a job rather than dropping out and joining a gang and forcing me to pay for the police to catch him, the courts to try him, and the prison to house him?

As a taxpayer, how are my interests better served?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

That's a nice fantasy but it'll never happen and all you'll be doing is limiting the best and brightest.

I'm with Vinny. The reality is, we have limited resources. The best and brightest will be fine and don't need the extra help.

I'm not saying everyone is equal (ie, the same), I'm saying we ought to strive for relative fairness. We don't treat the child with disabilities EQUALLY to other children - we allow the blind kid to use braille, for instance and that's not equal. But it gives them a fair chance.

The academically challenged kid (for whatever reason) deserves a fair chance. The "best and brightest" (my children included, I'd say) don't need the extra help, the academically challenged DO. Why would I insist on equality when fairness is not served by equality?

Consider this: The blind kid, given "equal" treatment would likely suffer in school.

The child with dyslexia given "equal" treatment would suffer.

The child with a hearing deficit given "equal" treatment would likely suffer.

It is logical to most folk, I'd suggest - and certainly to me - that providing the child with some disadvantage the resources to overcome that disadvantage is not any kind of special treatment.

It's simply how education ought to work. For better results for all of us. Vinny is right on.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

First of all, you continue to assume that the smart kids are all from families financially capable of putting them through college. As you yourself said, some programs provide college credit thereby lowering college costs for the student and his family. If the smart kid is from a dirt poor family, don't you think it's wise to allow him the ability to earn those credits, or would you prefer he turn to a life of crime? You fear monger you.

It shouldn't be an either or, especially if those smart kids might one day provide the solution to problems such as these if they are allowed to realize their potential. And struggling kids aren't necessarily destined for a life of crime if they can't get their grades up to the same level as the smart kids. A "D" is still a passing grade and there's no one stopping the kids from improving their abilities on their own through use of free public libraries and/or hiring their own tutors.

You also seem to only consider that the trouble is funding when we spend tons of money on our public school systems already.

I simply don't understand anyone who would willingly deprive those kids who are busting their asses to achieve unless you are simply more of a socialist than even you suspect. We need the best and brightest to continue reaching for the stars. It benefits the entire community. It lifts the curve. Why would you ever settle for such an option?

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Nice try, but the result is the same. By taking from the achievers, you lower the bar for everyone. The less brilliant kids already have the same opportunities. There is already fairness enough. That they struggle or don't try is not a result of lack of opportunity.

But what you suggest is even worse, in reality. What percentage of the student population are blind and dyslexic kids? If resources are limited, are you going to deprive the majority in order to serve the few? I don't want to see them go without, but does that mean we hold back the rest? I don't think so. Other game plans need to be devised.

What you guys don't seem to understand is that reducing or eliminating challenges for the smart kids is as harmful to them as not providing extra help to the struggling and lazy kids. And again, not all smart kids can reach their potential after high school without AP type programs that help them qualify for scholarships and grants and financial assistance. This is just another example of the liberal mindset of redistribution and again, the achievers have to bear the burden. This is a sad lesson to teach in schools, that one must withhold for the sake of the others, rather than rally the others.

You libs just don't, or refuse to realize that allowing people to succeed benefits everyone. I want those smart kids to advance as fast as they can. We need them in our society. I want sharp kids to become financially successful as it provides jobs and increases the wealth of the nation so asshole Democrats can suck more of it for their stupid programs. These kids are the ones that will find a way out of the mess that Obama & Co are creating now. Let's not get in their way.

And hey, Dan. These less brilliant kids...you can convince them to live simply, thereby negating the need for excellence in school.

Dan Trabue said...

By taking from the achievers, you lower the bar for everyone. The less brilliant kids already have the same opportunities. There is already fairness enough. That they struggle or don't try is not a result of lack of opportunity.

And you're basing this on what study? How many classrooms have you sat in? Taught? How many education courses have you taken?

What research do you have to support your statements or are they merely your hunches? (which is fine if so, I'm just clarifying.)

Marshall...

But what you suggest is even worse, in reality. What percentage of the student population are blind and dyslexic kids? If resources are limited, are you going to deprive the majority in order to serve the few?

Um, no. I support funding our schools enough to serve everyone. But IF resources are limited, I'm not going to take from the disadvantaged in order to serve the kids who need less - that's the point that I and I think Vinny are making.

As to how many are affected by disabilities? Well, 13%, currently, according to this source (Nat'l Center for Education Statistics).

And as a parent of a child in the majority you refer to, I'm glad to divert resources that could be benefiting my children to my other beloved friends (known and unknown) with disabilities.

You know, perhaps (or perhaps not) that when I was a child, many children with disabilities simply didn't go to school, or they dropped out early.

That's one way of solving your problem. If you get rid of the 10-15% of children who are slow or disabled - tell 'em just to stay home - that frees up resources. Are you advocating returning to those days?

So, yes, IF resources are limited, I'll do my best to ensure a quality education for everyone and, if that means a bit less for the "best and the brightest," I don't mind. And not only that, but as a parent to some of the best and brightest, THEY don't mind. That's because they have some friends amongst the best but not brightest and my children recognize that doing what's right might come at a cost to them and they're okay with that.

Beyond that, there are GREAT educational benefits (albeit some that are less tangible) that come with making accommodations for those not at the same level of academic success as we are.

Marshall Art said...

But that's NOT necessarily doing what's right, Dan. The struggling are already accomodated by being able to take the course or grade over again. You advocate depriving the achievers in order to provide even more for the struggling than they require. It isn't murder to put a kid through a grade a second time. For most, it helps them, giving them another opportunity to learn and absorb material that they simply might not have been yet capable of absorbing. This is already done by holding back kids who are born at the end of the year from beginning school in the first place. Some, however, are simply not developing at the same pace as their peers and need to be held back as well. This isn't putting them aside, and it isn't a burden on the achievers to do so. In fact, it makes achievers out of those who are struggling.

Neither the article referenced by the AT author, nor the article supplied by Jim indicated the struggling kids were amongst the disabled. So adding that to this discussion is irrelevant.

Also irrelevant is whether or not I have studies upon which to base my opinion or educational experience in my background. All I need is common sense, of which I have plenty, to make judgements about that which I observe. There are situations that call for such impositions on advanced students, but they should be avoided at all costs and used only as a last resort. We do not improve our society by holding back the brightest among us. If there is a "right" way to lean, it would be toward those most capable of providing the most by their success. That doesn't mean the rest of us are left with only tin cups, nor anything remotely like it. Indeed, that is far more likely by inhibiting the brightest from reaching their potential.

The last thing we should be doing to our kids is deciding between them rather than between us or them. I don't want a bright kid to suffer on account of a less advantaged kid anymore than I'd want to see the less advantaged suffer for the sake of the gifted. THAT'S my point and any such moves to deal with limited resources is the wrong move to consider except as a last resort, if ever. My position is that kids exist on invitation. They had no choice in their being here. WE OWE THEM, not the other way around and if anyone should be burdened in order to make up for financial shortfalls it should ALWAYS be the adults. Period.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

It isn't murder to put a kid through a grade a second time. For most, it helps them, giving them another opportunity to learn and absorb material that they simply might not have been yet capable of absorbing...

Also irrelevant is whether or not I have studies upon which to base my opinion or educational experience in my background. All I need is common sense, of which I have plenty, to make judgements about that which I observe.


And what if there are studies that demonstrate the holding children back a year (or two or three) does NOT tend to help them out? "For most," it helps them? Says who?

Do you understand that if you're just using your "common sense" and would use your "common sense" (ie, your best guess) to design policy rather than studies and research and real world experience, that reasonable people might object to such a whimsical approach to our children's education?

If I were advocating giving beer to kids during school hours because "it's just common sense" that doing so would relax them and help them do better in school, would you reject that as ridiculous?

Sometimes, one's common sense ideas may not reflect reality. Educators strive mightily (typically, not always) to use research-based, field-proven best practices and I think this is more reasonable than basing policy upon one fella's best guess as to what makes sense. Don't you?

Dan Trabue said...

Above, I mentioned studies on holding children back a year. Marshall's position (based upon...? Marshall's "common sense?") is that "for most" it helps them being held back a year.

Research says...

Despite countless studies on the topic, there is no significant evidence that children do better if school entrance is delayed or if they repeat a grade. In fact, some studies show that children who are held back do worse in the long run.

Or more can be found

here

here

And here is one that at least agrees with your suggestion that "common sense" tells us holding them back would tend to help...

"...evaluators and auditors such as education professor Ernest House found that the retained students were no better off than similar low-achieving students who had been promoted. Indeed, they found that retained students were much more likely to drop out later on.

These findings may seem to go against common sense. But over twenty-five years worth of educational data demonstrates that holding children back does not help them learn more; it only harms them."


Unfortunately, sometimes our common sense - when not provided factual data or being fully informed - is simply mistaken.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

I don't want a bright kid to suffer on account of a less advantaged kid anymore than I'd want to see the less advantaged suffer for the sake of the gifted. THAT'S my point and any such moves to deal with limited resources is the wrong move to consider except as a last resort, if ever. My position is that kids exist on invitation. They had no choice in their being here. WE OWE THEM, not the other way around and if anyone should be burdened in order to make up for financial shortfalls it should ALWAYS be the adults. Period.

So, if you're saying that this system should just find the money to pay for all needed programs, then we're in agreement. We need to fund our educational efforts adequately. But if you're saying, "This desire to fund programs for struggling students by removing programs for advanced students is wrong, we ought to fund the advanced students and not fund the struggling students," then I disagree.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Thanks for wasting my time. I read all but the link you said might agree with me. I've had two kids who started school late because of their birthdays were late in the year. The older of the two is looking to begin work toward her masters degree, the younger is in eigth grade. Both do excellent work. The younger of the two was originally place in a advanced math class in seventh grade. It turned out that she is a "tweener". She wasn't quite gifted enough to keep up in that class, but too gifted to be in the next level (she ended up in it anyway but was given more challenging work along with others mere percentage points lower than her). She would have held back the progress of the others in the original class. She was crushed. She saw it as a failure on her part, she was to be separated from most of her friends who remained in that class, and she felt she'd be a target of derision for a particular little bitch who is a snob and an elitist (already!). She got over it with our support. She came to understand it was better for her, and she excelled in the class and math in general since. She understands that failure, though she still doesn't like it, isn't the end of the world, but an indication of where she needs to focus her attention. Imagine that! What a fuckin' concept!

Of the people I've known who were held back during my period of schooling, all have succeeded in life beyond me. Some flunked a grade and others were like my kids, born late in the year.

None of the links to you've supplied speak in any measure regarding the individual child and why any who were impacted negatively were so. There is far more than being held back that would explain their level of achievement. I've known some kids who were held back that never got anywhere because they simply weren't smart enough. Though I believe everyone can do better than they have, I also believe that not everyone can achieve equal heights. Kids learn in different ways and our school system is still basically a one-size fits all situation. I am not impressed by studies run by the very people who have failed to accomodate the differences in children and have also failed to properly address the true meanings of achievement vs failure as it pertains to everyday life struggles. Facing failure properly is something that our culture has not come to terms with. If a child has responds negatively to being held back, likely as not the child is not properly guided regarding where his focus should be. It's certainly not on his own needs, but on how he is viewed by his peers. Wrong approach.

Finally, yeah, I'd much rather rely on common sense, MY common sense than I would on studies by those who have already failed our kids and continue to do so. Common sense is often far superior to sheep skin in understanding kids. Certainly your links provide far less data that I would need to access the accuracy of their conclusions.

Dan Trabue said...

I get it. You have your experience and you think that trumps any studies (never mind that the studies are consistent and from a variety of sources) or research. And you're welcome to your hunch.

I just think most reasonable people could agree that best practices ought to be based upon research, not anecdotal evidence.

And the research is not to say that NO children benefit or CAN benefit from being held back, just that this is not the typical result. We ought always strive to do what is best for the individual child and if that's holding them back, then so be it. But doing what's best for an individual and deciding policy for the whole are two different things.

If ten children are helped by being held back and 1000 are damaged by it, then the policy ought to be that we generally don't hold students back but that we strive to find their specific best learning practices and assist them as they move forward.

It may well be that SOME students learn best when the material is presented in a dance format rather than lecture or hands-on approaches, but if those children are in the extreme minority, then probably a dance format would not be the norm for what you'd see in the classroom.

We ought to set policy based upon research on what works best in general for the majority. That seems the most reasonable approach to me.

Marshall Art said...

No Dan,

Once again, common sense should rule and say that if studies show only, say, 30% are helped by holding them back, the focus should then be on why the number isn't better.

The studies suggest that often kids are no better off by the practice and that others are harmed. That tells me that there are TWO or more possibilities and that of those that are helped, then what of them? For those that it makes no difference, another approach is in order. For those that are harmed, still another approach. One size fits all won't work and doesn't and that's the only conclusion that works across the board. Common sense dictates this to be true.

And what are studies but collections of anecdotal episodes? I'm not about to simply go on ANY research in a knee-jerk fashion as you seem to have done with such limited data presented (by your links).

And worse, in your last you seem to swing both ways, first, if holding back works for some, so be it, and then at the end, do what works for the majority. Which is it? Individual attention or one-size fits all? So if we have to do what's best for the majority, why worry about the struggling kids to the extent that you deprive the advanced kids? If there are far more struggling kids, that doesn't speak well for the program already in place and that's not a matter of funding but of technique. Common sense prevails here, too.

As far as funding, all indications are that the US funds schools far beyond what others do and it has not led to top rankings internationally. This shows that it hasn't been a matter of money if better funding hasn't produced better results. The intelligentsia have been pining for more of our money for ever and between their studies and their pining, nothing improves. I'll stick with common sense, thank you very much. I'd say the big shot educators could use more of it.

Marty said...

I see valid points on both sides of this issue, however....

If we can't change the system, then we need to find creative ways to work around it.

Parental involvment is the key. I've seen it even in the poorest of school districts where gangs are prevalent.

Help teachers with their paper work and classroom set-up. Many are so overloaded that they can't teach or have time to properly prepare. That is the number one complaint I have heard from the teachers that I know.

Churches can help, like mine, by working together with non-profits who are making a difference.

The church where I work won an award several years in a row by providing mentors at the elementary school down the street.

We may not be able to change the system or the bureaucracy, but we as individuals, can change the lives of kids, one life at a time, by volunteering.

For me that is the bottom line.

Mark said...

Some one might have brought this up. I don't know because I haven't read all the comments, but, this is yet another example of Liberals attempting to "level the playing field" by bringing the upper part down to the level of the lower part instead of attempting to raise the lower part to the level of the upper part.

Why not make everyone richer or more privileged instead of trying to make everyone poorer or less privileged? It seems to me the Liberal plan depends on assuming the worst in people.