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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fox News writer blames schools for low wages. I respond.

Comment on P. Morici, ("Want to know why your wages are sinking, America? It starts with our schools," May 17, 2016) on fox news. com
Posted at: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/05/17/want-to-why-your-wages-are-sinking-america-it-starts-with-our-schools.html#

Peter Morici is badly misinformed when he says "fraud and wasted resources" in America's schools are the cause of low wages.
First, our schools are quite good. When researchers control for the impact of poverty, American students score near the top of the world on international test scores.  Our overall scores are unspectacular because child poverty is so high in the US, around 25%, the second highest of all industrialized countries. Poverty means, among other things, food deprivation, poor health care, and little access to books. The best teaching and most rigorous standards in the world will not mean anything if children are hungry, ill, and have little or nothing to read.  The problem is not fraud, waste, low standards, or teacher quality, or unions, or schools of education. The problem is poverty.

Despite the poverty problem, there is no shortage of scientifically-trained graduates. Rutgers University professor Hal Salzman has concluded that there are approximately three qualified graduates annually for each science or technology opening. Recent studies have also shown the United States is producing more Ph.D.s in science than the market can absorb.  About 1/3 of college-bound high-school students take calculus, and only about 5% of jobs require this much math. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, we will need 500,000 graduates in computer science by 2024. About 50,000 computer science majors are completing their education each year.

Stephen Krashen


Control for poverty: Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13; Bracey, G. 2009. The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/Bracey-Report. Berliner, D. 2011. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA: Negativism, Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., & Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. Tienken, C. 2010. Common core state standards: I wonder? Kappa Delta Phi Record 47 (1): 14-17. Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012. http://www.epi.org/).
Negative effect of poverty on school achievement: Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential:  Out-of-School Factors and School Success.  Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved [date] from http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential,

Surplus: Salzman, H. & Lowell, B. L. 2007. Into the Eye of the Storm: Assessing the Evidence on Science and Engineering Education, Quality, and Workforce Demand. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1034801
Salzman, H. and Lowell, L. 2008. Making the grade. Nature 453 (1): 28-30.
Salzman, H. 2012. No Shortage of Qualified American STEM Grads (5/25/12) http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-foreign-stem-graduates-get-green-cards/no-shortage-of-qualified-american-stem-grads.
Teitelbaum, M. 2014. Falling Behind? Boom, Bust & the Race of Scientific Talent. Princeton.
Weismann, J. 2013. More Ph.D's than the market can absorb: The Ph.D Bust: America's Awful Market for Young Scientists—in 7 Charts. The Atlantic, Feb 20, 2013. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/the-phd-bust-americas-awful-market-for-young-scientists-in-7-charts/273339/
One third take calculus: Bressoud, D. 2011. Calculus in High School: Too Much of A Good Thing? www.macalester.edu/~bressoud/talks
Need for calculus: Handel, M. 2010. What do people do at work? Available at www.northeastern.edu/socant/wp-content/.../STAMP_OECD2a_edit2.doc‎

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