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Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 08:40 AM   #1
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Stupid In America

If there's one guy I like on national tv, it's John Stossel.* He had a program on last night concerning U.S. education.* Seems there are some things awry.* I could not believe that Belgium is lecturing us about competition in schools.* What's this world coming to?

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Stossel/story?id=1500338

Monopoly Kills Innovation and Cheats Kids

Chavis's charter school is an example of how a little innovation can create a school that can change kids' lives. You don't get innovation without competition.

To give you an idea of how competitive American schools are and how U.S. students performed compared with their European counterparts, we gave parts of an international test to some high school students in Belgium and in New Jersey.

Belgian kids cleaned the American kids' clocks, and called them "stupid."

We didn't pick smart kids to test in Europe and dumb kids in the United States. The American students attend an above-average school in New Jersey, and New Jersey's kids have test scores that are above average for America.

Lov Patel, the boy who got the highest score among the American students, told me, "I'm shocked, because it just shows how advanced they are compared to us."

The Belgian students didn't perform better because they're smarter than American students. They performed better because their schools are better. At age 10, American students take an international test and score well above the international average. But by age 15, when students from 40 countries are tested, the Americans place 25th.
American schools don't teach as well as schools in other countries because they are government monopolies, and monopolies don't have much incentive to compete. In Belgium, by contrast, the money is attached to the kids it's a kind of voucher system. Government funds education at many different kinds of schools but if a school can't attract students, it goes out of business.

Belgian school principal Kaat Vandensavel told us she works hard to impress parents.

She told us, "If we don't offer them what they want for their child, they won't come to our school." She constantly improves the teaching, saying, "You can't afford 10 teachers out of 160 that don't do their work, because the clients will know, and won't come to you again."

"That's normal in Western Europe," Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby told me. "If schools don't perform well, a parent would never be trapped in that school in the same way you could be trapped in the U.S."

Last week Florida's Supreme Court shut down "opportunity scholarships," Florida's small attempt at competition. Public money can't be spent on private schools, said the court, because the state constitution commands the funding only of "uniform . . . high-quality" schools. Government schools are neither uniform nor high-quality, and without competition, no new teaching plan or No Child Left Behind law will get the monopoly to serve its customers well.

The longer kids stay in American schools, the worse they do in international competition. They do worse than kids from poorer countries that spend much less money on education, ranking behind not only Belgium but also Poland, the Czech Republic and South Korea.
This should come as no surprise if you remember that public education in the United States is a government monopoly. Don't like your public school? Tough. The school is terrible? Tough. Your taxes fund that school regardless of whether it's good or bad. That's why government monopolies routinely fail their customers. Union-dominated monopolies are even worse.
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Re: Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 08:43 AM   #2
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Re: Stupid In America

I read that yesterday. Very disturbing.
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Re: Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 09:31 AM   #3
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Re: Stupid In America

I watched that show last night, very sad commentary on our school systems.
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Re: Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 10:06 AM   #4
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Re: Stupid In America

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle43
The Belgian students didn't perform better because they're smarter than American students. They performed better because their schools are better...American schools don't teach as well as schools in other countries because they are government monopolies, and monopolies don't have much incentive to compete. In Belgium, by contrast, the money is attached to the kids it's a kind of voucher system. Government funds education at many different kinds of schools but if a school can't attract students, it goes out of business.
Now that the problem has been identified and a solution is available, is the person or group in charge going to solve the problem. Probably not. Hundreds and thousands of studies but no action.

To know and not to act is the same as not knowing in the first place.
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Re: Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 10:20 AM   #5
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Re: Stupid In America

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle43
At age 10, American students take an international test and score well above the international average. But by age 15, when students from 40 countries are tested, the Americans place 25th.

The longer kids stay in American schools, the worse they do in international competition. They do worse than kids from poorer countries that spend much less money on education, ranking behind not only Belgium but also Poland, the Czech Republic and South Korea.

This should come as no surprise if you remember that public education in the United States is a government monopoly. Don't like your public school? Tough. The school is terrible? Tough. Your taxes fund that school regardless of whether it's good or bad. That's why government monopolies routinely fail their customers. Union-dominated monopolies are even worse.
OK, I'm sensing that ol' John doesn't like unions, although if management was doing its job then unions would have no reason to exist.* And I'm all for the choices implied by a voucher system.* But those are discussions for other threads, and there wasn't any reason for Stossel to bring them up in this article either.

Lemme borrow one of TH's gophers prairie dogs for a second.* Doesn't there seem to be a logic flaw here?* If the U.S. education system sucks so badly, then why are there so many international students in it it?* If the Belgian school system is so darn good, then why aren't we all speaking Flemish?

I have a hard time getting excited over test scores that seem to have no practical purpose other than to fuel alarmist journalism.* We've documented cultural & racial biases in the IQ tests & SAT system for years.* It wouldn't be much of a surprise to find the same problem in this exam.*

In addition, I can't see the students getting very excited about an exam where they're graded against the rest of the world.* These are kids who have homework, studying for other exams, part-time jobs, sports, a social life, and a world of other reasons to not care about the test they're asked to take.* There's no motivation and no consequence for failure, either.* So why would we expect them to outperform?

Edited to clarify that I object to Stossel's turning the presentation into a union diatribe, not to anything brought up by the poster.

Edited again to correct my ignorance of Mainland rodents.
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Re: Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 11:10 AM   #6
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Re: Stupid In America

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
OK, I'm sensing that ol' John doesn't like unions, although if management was doing its job then unions would have no reason to exist. And I'm all for the choices implied by a voucher system. But those are discussions for other threads, and there wasn't any reason to bring them up in this article either.
I guess if you don't like the message you can always point the finger at the messenger. I think this thread is about the show on ABC last night, so if the show covered topics like vouhcers, school choice, unions, testing, etc., then I would think discussions of those topics and how Mr. Stossel presented them would be suitable for this thread. I shall now dismount from my small soapbox.

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Re: Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 11:33 AM   #7
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Re: Stupid In America

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I guess if you don't like the message you can always point the finger at the messenger.*
I could make fun of his Tom Selleck wannabe blow-dry & mustache, too, but I won't. When you're shooting fish in a barrel there's no need to complain about the shotgun ammunition or to ask for the water to be drained out.

The article has enough flaws & fallacies to merit its own finger-pointing without having to invoke Stossel's lack of objectivity...

As for the media & unions, nearly four decades after the CBS strike my FIL can still recite who crossed the line and who didn't. He also notes that the "talent" like Dan Rather promised not to cross the line... and then filed their stories from off-site. Maybe that media "objectivity" should be changed to "media duplicity".
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Re: Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 12:00 PM   #8
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Re: Stupid In America

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Originally Posted by Nords
The article has enough flaws & fallacies to merit its own finger-pointing without having to invoke Stossel's lack of objectivity...
That would make for some interesting reading. Why don't you point out the flaws and fallacies of the report rather than your dislike of Stossel's hair and mustache?
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Re: Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 12:18 PM   #9
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Re: Stupid In America

I saw the show as well as something similar on PBS/HD last night.

I help teach post-graduate topics to graduates of schools all over the world. I am not worried so much about US schools. The top students do just fine compared to their foreign peers.

I do agree with Mr Stossel that competition among schools and teachers would lead to better graduates. Despite the admonition from a few teaches on his show that this has never been proven to yield better students it has: This has certainly happened among high school sports: it has led to better atheletes that go on to college and post-college competitive sports. Coaches are held accountable all the time. They are fired if their teams don't do well. Even at the public school level.
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Re: Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 12:20 PM   #10
 
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Re: Stupid In America

I believe the same can be said for much of Canada's Education System, that it has been dumbed down, very strong unions ensure that no one can befired so deadwood stays, and so as not to dishearten the little darlings, they do not want to fail anyone.

I graduated in 64 from a large School, of 100 Graduates, 2 had over 80, today, 80 is the norm.

I got into University with a 60, today it takes an 80 to get into the better Schools.

One major differance, in my day the final exams were marked offsite and the papers were numbered so markers did not know th students identity, today the Teachers mark their own students.

Top salary for a Teacher is now over $90, 000 a year, they work 198 days a year, so theoretically we should have the brightest minds Teaching, not in many cases.

The Premiere of Ontario wants to make it mandatory for students to stay until they are 18, classes will be filled with kids who would rather not be there.

Private Schools are the alternative.

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Re: Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 01:01 PM   #11
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Re: Stupid In America

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Lemme borrow one of TH's gophers for a second.
Thats a really good point. You dont see a lot of americans fleeing the country for their educational needs, but plenty going the other way. But are they coming for the quality of education or to use the school visa to spend some time here? Maybe a little of both.

One minor thing...its prairie dogs man, not gophers. I dont think gophers do that little 'stand up and look around' thing, but I have to admit to being a little low on knowledge with regards to burrowing animals of the midwest. If I have dissed the gopher population by demeaning their pop-up ability, I apologize. My pop-up blocker is active.

I'm pretty sure you can stuff 'em like a beaver though. I'm betting they make a nice hairy pancake too. Hmm...a prarie dog pancake on a gophers head... nah...too weird.

I think there are good examples of unions and bad ones, just like good company management and bad. A union that protects bad employees isnt a good thing. Lack of one that allows predatory company management to take advantage of employees isnt good either.

Its a little disturbing to my wife that one of her friends who never went past high school joined the union at the local supermarket and after a few years of working there running the cash register makes more per hour and gets better benefits than she does. She only went to school for a bazillion years and saves peoples lives. Isnt that a lot more worthy of compensation than passing boxes and bottles over a bar code scanner.
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Re: Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 01:46 PM   #12
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Re: Stupid In America

Nords, no I don't think there is a flaw in the logic.* In fact it may support the premise that competition is a factor for improving education.

Code:
Doesn't there seem to be a logic flaw here?* If the U.S. education system sucks so badly, then why are there so many international students in it it?
Foreign students typically come to the US for college and American universities dominate the list of best grad schools.

If you look at the list of best grad schools in the world you will find that about half are American.

Most other countries will have only one or at most two schools on the list.* Oxford and Cambridge in GB, Tokyo in Japan, Paris in France.* (Disclosure:* I haven't looked at these rankings for about 10 years so there may have been some changes.)

However from the US you will find many private (Examples: Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Caltech, Princeton, etc.) and public schools (Examples:* UC Berkeley, UCLA, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, etc.) on this list.

Interestingly, one author attributed this to competition among the US schools for the best professors and grad students.* He felt that other countries had a lot more "in-breeding" and less competition in their universities.* So perhaps this supports the info in Eagle43's original post.

MB* *
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Re: Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 01:52 PM   #13
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Re: Stupid In America

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Originally Posted by dusk_to_dawn
That would make for some interesting reading.* Why don't you point out the flaws and fallacies of the report rather than your dislike of Stossel's hair and mustache?
I'm not a lawyer and I don't wish to be one, but am I going to have to start adding "This is sarcasm" to my posts too?
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Re: Stupid In America
Old 01-14-2006, 02:23 PM   #14
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Re: Stupid In America

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I'm not a lawyer and I don't wish to be one, but am I going to have to start adding "This is sarcasm" to my posts too?
Nords, my sincerest appologies. When you stated that the article had enough flaws and fallacies to merit its own finger pointing, I assumed you knew what you were talking about. I'll try not to make that error again.
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