"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Obama Offers Same Tired Bromides on Education with Fewer Specifics

Same tired and misleading crap:
Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. 
The science was there, but Eisenhower chose not to launch first. In 2009, NOVA presented Sputnik Declassified, which tells the story of how the U. S. could have beaten the Soviets into space, had it not been for military spy priorities that wanted the Soviets to, indeed, be first, thus establishing a precedent for our planned spy satellites that were very soon to map every Soviet ICBM launch site without fanfare or public pronouncement. So while the media frothed at the mouth and bop generation's back-to-basics chain gang school advocates whipped up new levels of frenzy and fear, Eisenhower's rocket men knew that they could have beaten the Soviets into space by a whole year. Read your history, Mr. Obama.  

The Chinese are grinding their kids into test score dust earlier and longer, so we do the same. Check.  (At least the President did not repeat the lie that ABC is promulgating that China was first in the world on the PISA test scores, when it fact it was the cram schools of Shanghai, whose children are, no doubt, cross-eyed from the pressure of their totalitarian leaders:
Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science.
Same misleading stat on new jobs requiring college educations.  Check:
Think about it. Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren't even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us - as citizens, and as parents - are willing to do what's necessary to give every child a chance to succeed.
Good God, man--this is really tired and still misleading.  This from Bracey in 2009:
Obama's speech observed, "three quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma...." What it didn't observe is that those occupations produce very few jobs. For every systems engineer a computer firm needs (and we have three newly-minted, home-grown scientists and engineers for each new job), Wal-Mart puts about 15 sales people on the floor. Sales people, hamburger flippers, janitors, maids, waiters--those are the jobs that people find. Given what these jobs pay, they often they find more than one so they can feed their own kids.

Of course, that "more than a high school diploma" is a meaningless weasel-phrase usually tossed around to scare everyone into thinking that everyone needs a college degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that overwhelmingly, the great majority of jobs need--and will need in the future--only a high school diploma and short-term (one week to three months) on-the-job training.

Back to the speech: 
That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities. It's family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done. We need to teach our kids that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.
And thus begins a new era of accountability for parents.   This is new.  Rahm the Reptile, if elected, has a plan to put assistant principals on the hunt for parents who aren't tutoring their children with meaningless worksheets supplied by the charter CEOs.  More on that later.
Our schools share this responsibility. When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don't meet this test. That's why instead of just pouring money into a system that's not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all fifty states, we said, "If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we'll show you the money."

Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. These standards were developed, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country. And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible and focused on what's best for our kids.
You see, we know what's possible for our children when reform isn't just a top-down mandate, but the work of local teachers and principals; school boards and communities.
Yes, yes.  And only 12 states got any of the $4.3 billion.  38 states got zip.  Big bribes, big fiasco.  What appears to be new moving forward is the new RTTT will be bribe local systems, rather than states.   Same segregated charters, same constant testing, same teacher bashing with test scores.
Take a school like Bruce Randolph in Denver. Three years ago, it was rated one of the worst schools in Colorado; located on turf between two rival gangs. But last May, 97% of the seniors received their diploma. Most will be the first in their family to go to college. And after the first year of the school's transformation, the principal who made it possible wiped away tears when a student said "Thank you, Mrs. Waters, for showing... that we are smart and we can make it."

Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as "nation builders." Here in America, it's time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. And over the next ten years, with so many Baby Boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Same pay per score plans that have been demonstrated by research to be ineffective.
In fact, to every young person listening tonight who's contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child - become a teacher. Your country needs you.
Yes, you will find that are under constant attack, your benefits are being cut, retirement gutted, your job security is on the way out, your salary will be tied to test scores. Become a teacher today.
Of course, the education race doesn't end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within reach of every American. That's why we've ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students. And this year, I ask Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition tax credit - worth $10,000 for four years of college.

Because people need to be able to train for new jobs and careers in today's fast-changing economy, we are also revitalizing America's community colleges. Last month, I saw the promise of these schools at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina. Many of the students there used to work in the surrounding factories that have since left town. One mother of two, a woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since she was 18 years old. And she told me she's earning her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her children to pursue their dreams too. As Kathy said, "I hope it tells them to never give up."

If we take these steps - if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they're born until the last job they take - we will reach the goal I set two years ago: by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
Same meaningless goal that is sure to fire the for-profit flames that are consuming the poor children who are being preyed upon the Kaplans and Phoenixes of the world.  Will there be jobs for this overabundance of college grads?  Yes, in China and India, where Gates and the other oligarchs are sending their work.  Most of our jobs here will not require college degrees, which, of course, creates a surplus and drives down wages for those with degrees. I think they're called ant tribes in China.
One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.

Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let's agree to make that effort. And let's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.
And so it goes.  Goodnight, and good luck.  

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