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Understanding the Issues: Education

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View Poll Results: Do You Agree with Obama's Stance on Education?
Yes (Agree with more than 75%) 15 75.00%
No (Agree with less than 25%) 1 5.00%
Not Sure 4 20.00%
Voters: 20. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-10-2008, 05:27 PM   #16
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

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Originally Posted by Schneed10 View Post
Yeah I think I gotcha. You're saying that the SATs force teachers/schools to gear their teaching styles towards the test.

I'm not sure that's a bad thing. I happen to love the SAT and think it's a great measure. It combines good probing questions with the need to perform under pressure (time limit). I think you need a degree of standardization in schools all across the land. After all, all students are headed to the same real world and job market, aren't they?

The SATs are a funny animal though - those who did well on them tend to like them. Those who didn't... not so much.
It's definitely a bad thing if you talk to teachers. I had the opportunity to speak with a middle school teacher/principle a few weeks ago and he said they're just training the children to take the test. No critical think necessary. When teachers don't believe in what they are doing how can they possibly do a good job?

SAT is a total different beast, it's a collage aptitude test. Teachers can do some prep-work to prepare students for the test but they don't base their curriculum on the test.
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Old 06-10-2008, 05:44 PM   #17
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

Thanks, this is a bit more detailed than what I had found. I'll probably keep the poll as is, but we can/should certainly add McCain's position to the discussion. I think we sort of have been already.
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Old 06-10-2008, 07:36 PM   #18
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

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Originally Posted by firstdown View Post
Smoot one quick search McCain's stance.

John McCain on Education

That's the platform he ran on back in 2000. Folks, this ain't the same McCain that even I wanted in the white house back in 2000 (yes, I was a McCain supporter back then).
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:50 PM   #19
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

i absolutely will not vote for obama (too much tax and spend), but on education, i see nothing to disagree with... as far as pledging years for education, that's what the military does, and it works really well there (at least for the technical jobs, and they do 50 college credits in 6 months and throw on the GI bill and 100% tuition assistance, and offer to pay the full ride if you go officer or take certain jobs (nurse, etc)).

updating testing standards wouldn't be a bad idea either. charter schools are really hit or miss... post katrina is the best place to observe charters on a massive scale, and so far, while some are WAY above average, others really aren't doing anything better than public schools.

honestly, energy and education are the biggest long term problems facing america (and both affect the economy greatly). mccain has a very good plan on energy (lots of nuclear - one of the cheapest and cleanest, and SAFEST sources of energy, among other things), and he's really not running on education (he may steal some ideas, but i just don't see that as a focus of his beyond a quick press for vouchers, which aren't terrible, but don't really fix the problem either).

obama's education stance looks well researched and workable, though i would like to know the real cost estimates and how it's getting paid for... old newt agreed back in the late 90s that education is terribly out of date and needs to be overhauled to keep the future economy running like a freight train. while the ideas aren't new (most aren't) they'd definitely help.
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:02 PM   #20
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

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While I agree teachers get stuck teaching to the test isn't it the basic stuff kids nee to know?
Not really. Teaching to the test is helping the kids figure out how to pick the right answer, as opposed to teaching them the fundamentals that allow them to understand why the answer they chose was correct. The former skill becomes useless when the test is over, while the latter is a base for the next year's education. Skipping the base leaves you with pretty much nothing.

Watch season 4 of the Wire. It may be hyperbole (or maybe not), but it highlights the problem.
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:45 PM   #21
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

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I'm guessing that your wife stays at home with your kid(s)? I'm not knocking the stay-at-home mom, but those in that situation tend not to have an understanding of the realities of a family where both parents work. For many families, it's not an option to have a stay at home parent, and after-school care is essential to allowing some parents to provide all of the material necessities for their kids.

Obviously, there is a funding issue, but this is one that I think is critical in today's world.
No, both myself and my wife work. Our one-year old is in daycare.

When I said parenting, it's not a matter of parental oversight and constantly being home to keep them out of trouble. It's a matter of raising your kids right so that by the time they get to be teenagers, they're capable of making the right decisions in compromising situations. Raising them right means more than just bringing them up with good moral compasses, it means making sure they're kept busy with activities throughout childhood so they build a network of friends in multiple activities, making it more likely they'll continue to participate in school athletics, music, dance, school newspaper, science club, anything to keep them busy in their teenage years. Idle hands...

Ideally every family would have the stay at home parent to provide even more support. But I know it's still possible to keep kids on the right track with two working parents.
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:51 PM   #22
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

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No, both myself and my wife work. Our one-year old is in daycare.

When I said parenting, it's not a matter of parental oversight and constantly being home to keep them out of trouble. It's a matter of raising your kids right so that by the time they get to be teenagers, they're capable of making the right decisions in compromising situations. Raising them right means more than just bringing them up with good moral compasses, it means making sure they're kept busy with activities throughout childhood so they build a network of friends in multiple activities, making it more likely they'll continue to participate in school athletics, music, dance, school newspaper, science club, anything to keep them busy in their teenage years. Idle hands...

Ideally every family would have the stay at home parent to provide even more support. But I know it's still possible to keep kids on the right track with two working parents.
Then maybe I'm misunderstanding after-school care - I thought it referred to pre-high school kids. That is, kids whom it is illegal to leave unsupervised (in most states). Is it primarily for kids 14 and over?
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:56 PM   #23
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

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Not really. Teaching to the test is helping the kids figure out how to pick the right answer, as opposed to teaching them the fundamentals that allow them to understand why the answer they chose was correct. The former skill becomes useless when the test is over, while the latter is a base for the next year's education. Skipping the base leaves you with pretty much nothing.

Watch season 4 of the Wire. It may be hyperbole (or maybe not), but it highlights the problem.
I agree that the emphasis placed on the standardized testing probably, to a degree, distracts from the subject matter that should be the main focus of teachers and students. But teaching to the test still has value. It teaches kids how to analyze the question, how to logically think through the possibilities and use process of elimination to narrow it down, to understand when they're overthinking vs when they're trusting their instincts, etcetera.

These tests, and teaching to them, certainly results in downtick in creative thinking. But logical and analytical thinking gets a lot of focus. I don't see it as a bad thing for kids on the whole.

Besides, you can use process of elimination all you want on a multiple choice standardized test, but in the end if you can't eliminate more than a couple answers, you don't know the underlying material well enough anyway. I do think there's an appropriate balance being struck.
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Old 06-10-2008, 10:01 PM   #24
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

Fair enough, but if your entire curriculum for English focuses on logical thinking, have you formed the foundation for English that is necessary to learn writing skills over the 12 years of school (vocabulary, grammar, etc)? Same for any other subject.
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Old 06-10-2008, 10:04 PM   #25
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

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Then maybe I'm misunderstanding after-school care - I thought it referred to pre-high school kids. That is, kids whom it is illegal to leave unsupervised (in most states). Is it primarily for kids 14 and over?
Good question. I assumed it was for high-school aged kids, similar to programs run by PAL and YMCA, designed to keep them out of trouble.

If it's for little kids, and both parents work, I'm not sure why parents would need funding for after-care? Seems like two working parents can handle the cost of those programs, they're only a couple hundred a month.

Which of course brings up a whole other issue... single parents. That's a group that needs the after-care help. But I've got a personal moral issue with lending support to single parents when most of them are single parents as a result of their own misjudgments. Of course their kids can't help being born into a shitty situation, so in that sense I can see the logic in helping them. But still, it doesn't taste good because their parents (most, not all) should have to struggle.

(sorry for the opinionated opinion)
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Old 06-10-2008, 10:07 PM   #26
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

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Fair enough, but if your entire curriculum for English focuses on logical thinking, have you formed the foundation for English that is necessary to learn writing skills over the 12 years of school (vocabulary, grammar, etc)? Same for any other subject.
As long as your school/teachers are striking the appropriate balance between teaching the core material and teaching how to analyze the questions, then I think the kids are in good shape. Remember, kids don't take these tests every year. They take them in like 1st grade, then 4th, then 7th, then 11th. Or something like that (I don't know the exact years). But my point is there are like 3 or 4 years between tests. In all that time, kids are not spending an inordinate amount of time on the test analysis. They're getting the building blocks over time, then when they come to the year for test time, then they get the analysis stuff.

I'll bet if you ask 4th grade teachers (or whatever year they administer the test), they're probably the ones most aggravated and affected. The other teachers probably don't care much, as they get to focus on core curriculum.
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Old 06-10-2008, 10:23 PM   #27
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

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Good question. I assumed it was for high-school aged kids, similar to programs run by PAL and YMCA, designed to keep them out of trouble.

If it's for little kids, and both parents work, I'm not sure why parents would need funding for after-care? Seems like two working parents can handle the cost of those programs, they're only a couple hundred a month.

Which of course brings up a whole other issue... single parents. That's a group that needs the after-care help. But I've got a personal moral issue with lending support to single parents when most of them are single parents as a result of their own misjudgments. Of course their kids can't help being born into a shitty situation, so in that sense I can see the logic in helping them. But still, it doesn't taste good because their parents (most, not all) should have to struggle.

(sorry for the opinionated opinion)
I couldn't disagree more on single-parents - who deserves help more than a full-time working mother or father? What does the reason why they are doing it alone matter? Now, if they aren't working full-time then, of course, I would agree. I think that criteria would weed out a lot of the bad apples. (one opinionated opinion deserves another, right?)

As for families with two parents, $200/kid (which is not the uniform cost, of course) can be prohibitive if you have a household income of $20k (which accounts for 20% of the US households). Now, I would agree it's a murky area if you have 8 kids. But for those with even 2 kids, there just isn't $4800/year for the care they need.
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Old 06-10-2008, 10:27 PM   #28
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

Just curious, has anyone's opinion changed or been affected on who they will vote for based on these Understanding The Issues threads I've started?
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:15 PM   #29
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

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Just curious, has anyone's opinion changed or been affected on who they will vote for based on these Understanding The Issues threads I've started?
not really, since obama is so willing to really jack up tax rates and his foreign policy statements overall haven't been very good (and prove a lack of experience with how the world works). I still don't think the "aura of change" is going to matter much once congress opens if he's in charge. It might help him push through a few issues early, but i don't think it'll hold up too well unless he can flip the economy into a strong boom within 18 months due to his policies, which i REALLY don't see happening.

either candidate will be better on science than bush though, so false "studies" with badly tainted/wrong "scientific results" should decrease either way, which i'm really looking forward to. both will probably do a little work on lobbyists reform or whatnot, which will be welcome, though minor.
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:22 PM   #30
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Re: Understanding the Issues: Education

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Just curious, has anyone's opinion changed or been affected on who they will vote for based on these Understanding The Issues threads I've started?
These threads are good summations of where each candidate stands on the issues... I don't have to dig too far when everything is listed here in one place.

In terms of standardized testing, general tests like the SATs and GREs are not predictors of future success (however, specialized entrance exams, like the MCATs and LSATs, are legitimate tests for their programs). I knew kids who killed at these general tests, but they didn't match high scores with an inherent motivation to succeed at the next level. The SAT is only an indicator of how well you take that particular test.

There's a reason why students can increase their scores a few hundred points after taking an SAT class. These courses teach you how to take the test in the most efficient manner- in addition to brushing up your pre-trig math, they mostly offer tricks to beat it. For example, plugging in the answers to figure out the solution (backwards-solving), scanning for major points on reading comp., bettering your odds, etc. These tricks have nothing to do with IQ or high levels of problem-solving. It's also a reason why many universities are placing less weight on these tests for entrance.

In regards to high school learning, teaching to the test does place a crutch on effective teaching styles. Schneed, you actually bring up a good point re: how logic is important when taking these exit exams. The only problem is that teachers can't sharpen these analytical skills when they teach to the test.

Give instructors the ability to teach in ways that get through to an ever-changing student body and you'll find a rise in critical-thinking skills and problem-solving ability. You do this by providing kids a hands-on approach to content learning via authentic activities. Apply the way high school chemistry is taught to all areas of teaching. What would work better? A strict state-mandated curriculum for a history class that has teachers assigning text, interspersed with quizzes and finals? Or a teacher who teaches outside the box? For example, providing activities that compare past events with current ones, allowing students a more interactive way to analyze historical events (because they're provided a relevant parallel).

Because funding for CA public schools is heavily reliant on these test scores, there is absolutely no time in the semester for teachers to do anything outside of the mandated curriculum. I think most of my generation went through the rote memorization method of learning. I memorized what I needed to, aced the test and then forgot it the next day. One thing I like from Obama's educational platform is his commitment to innovation. Let's change the educational paradigm, so kids are better equipped to learn the basics (math, English and science) via higher levels of critical thinking and problem solving abilities (and not through paint-by-numbers memorization words/numbers).
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