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megimoo
09-28-2009, 05:05 PM
snip
One of those reforms was to pay teachers for performance and to devise a mechanism that would weed out incompetents. But the Wikipedia page on Nation at Risk notes that “stunningly few” of its recommendations were ever implemented.

For an idea why, consider the comments of Terry Moe, a professor of political science at Stanford University, and John Chubb, founder of EdisonLearning Inc. They blame the lack of reform on teachers’ unions that are “extraordinarily powerful.”
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They quote a study of state-level politics that found teachers’ unions to be the single-most-powerful interest group in the entire country throughout the 1990s.
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This lets unions block reforms, like pay for performance and the firing of incompetents, which are not in the interest of their members.
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Moe and Chubb also point out that a simple way to boost teacher quality would be to test veteran teachers for competence in the subjects they teach. This almost certainly would have exposed the shortcomings of my algebra teacher. But unions have opposed these sorts of tests. They claim that all teachers with formal certification are competent to teach.
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Well, my algebra teacher was certified, as were all the teachers in my school system even back then. At least to me, the suggestion that certification is a proxy for competence is nonsensical.

http://machinedesign.com/article/why-johnny-cant-do-algebra-0925

Gingersnap
09-28-2009, 06:00 PM
Why Johnny can't do algebra:

Crappy teachers;

error-riddled textbooks;

has to learn 18 nonfunctional ways of long division and so fails to learn the common way;

is never required to learn the most common answers for basic arithmetic problems, wastes time and interest working every last step out in laborious detail;

is never required to demonstrate retention of fundamental concepts in arithmetic like reducing fractions;

is never told that all the really cool, semi-decent paying jobs involve math.

Rockntractor
09-28-2009, 07:55 PM
Why Johnny can't do algebra:

Crappy teachers;

error-riddled textbooks;

has to learn 18 nonfunctional ways of long division and so fails to learn the common way;

is never required to learn the most common answers for basic arithmetic problems, wastes time and interest working every last step out in laborious detail;

is never required to demonstrate retention of fundamental concepts in arithmetic like reducing fractions;

is never told that all the really cool, semi-decent paying jobs involve math.

They no all the math they need to weigh and sell drugs!

PoliCon
09-28-2009, 08:38 PM
Kids are no longer asked to memorize their math tables. If they would just be asked to memorize their math tables - they'd get the rest.

BadCat
09-28-2009, 08:41 PM
Kids are no longer asked to memorize their math tables. If they would just be asked to memorize their math tables - they'd get the rest.

Here is one reason Johnny can't do algebra...

My wife teaches 8 grade math, they are supposed to do an introduction to Algebra in the eighth grade.

The school system discovered that JOHNNY CAN'T READ IN THE EIGHTH GRADE, so now, they have her devoting a part of the time she is SUPPOSED TO BE TEACHING MATH, instead teaching reading.

PoliCon
09-28-2009, 08:53 PM
Here is one reason Johnny can't do algebra...

My wife teaches 8 grade math, they are supposed to do an introduction to Algebra in the eighth grade.

The school system discovered that JOHNNY CAN'T READ IN THE EIGHTH GRADE, so now, they have her devoting a part of the time she is SUPPOSED TO BE TEACHING MATH, instead teaching reading.

Reading is supposed to be what they learn in early elementary school - but because half the kids now adays come to school wild and nothing can be done about that - time that should be devoted to basic instruction is now being devoted to behavioral instruction. Most of the rest of the time is filled with feel good pablum force on the schools by the special interests. :mad:

BadCat
09-28-2009, 08:56 PM
Reading is supposed to be what they learn in early elementary school - but because half the kids now adays come to school wild and nothing can be done about that - time that should be devoted to basic instruction is now being devoted to behavioral instruction. Most of the rest of the time is filled with feel good pablum force on the schools by the special interests. :mad:

Yes, I believe we are doomed as a great country, the writing is on the wall, so to speak, and most Americans cannot read it.

Gingersnap
09-28-2009, 09:02 PM
Kids are no longer asked to memorize their math tables. If they would just be asked to memorize their math tables - they'd get the rest.

This is part of it and Bad Cat's observation is part of it. You can't teach a kid to divide if the kid can't read simple English but you also can't teach a kid to divide (or multiply or whatever) if the kid is exposed to 10 different "systems" for the operation and asked to choose the one that fits best for him.

While it may be true that there are a number of ways of arriving at the answer "24" when asked to multiply 6 by 4, in the business, scientific, and home finance worlds, memorizing the answer is simplest. Kids give up when they have to laboriously work out these common solutions.

Of course, the inability to decode a simple story problem is just as devastating. If you can't read, you surely can't parse these hated problems either.

Teetop
09-28-2009, 09:39 PM
Why Johnny is ignorant?

N.E.A.

noonwitch
09-29-2009, 08:45 AM
My algebra teacher was not usually a math teacher-he was usually a social studies teacher, who taught math that year because they needed a teacher for the class. He was a good social studies teacher, but not so good of a math teacher. I think this happens more than we think.

I wish my geometry teacher in 10th grade had been my algebra teacher in 9th grade-he was also my pre-algebra teacher in 8th grade, and moved up to the high school afterwards. He was a good math teacher, and one of 3 or 4 teachers at that level who could really make me understand math.

linda22003
09-29-2009, 08:49 AM
is never told that all the really cool, semi-decent paying jobs involve math.

Fortunately for me (and for my husband), this is totally not true. :D

BadCat
09-29-2009, 10:51 AM
I go to my wife's classes and do a presentation on "Engineering", primarily Software Engineering. We try to get the kids interested in an engineeering career and tell them what they need to start doing in the eighth grade to accomplish this.

I have a Java program I wrote that I show the kids...it's one of those programs that shows satellite tracks on a map of the earth.

I ask the kids..what did I have to know to write this? It simply boggles their little minds when we go through all the math and sciences involved in writing the program. But every year, we get a couple of kids that it really excites, and they want to "be an engineer". My wife says those kids really get a new attitude about math and science.

It's triage, but it's about all you can hope for these days.