What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us

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What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us

Jerry Becker
What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us
*********************************
From The Los Angeles Times, Friday, September 30, 2011. See http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-american-teacher-20110930,0,7613779.story
*********************************
What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us
The U.S. education system is shedding teachers at an alarming rate. This documentary, directed by Vanessa Roth and narrated by Matt Damon, delves into the problem.

By Kenneth Turan    [Los Angeles Times Film Critic]

It's titled "American Teacher," but this unsettling look at what's wrong with our culture's attitudes toward that beleaguered profession could just as well have been called "The Vanishing Americans."

That's because our education system is shedding teachers at an alarming rate. As narrated by Matt Damon, this documentary tells us that 20% of teachers in urban area schools leave every year, with 46% of teachers nationwide quitting before their fifth year. With more than half of our teachers eligible for retirement within the next 10 years, we are looking at serious trouble.

It's trouble not only because educating young people is crucial to our economy and our democracy but also because studies of the subject invariably come to the conclusion that the Gates Foundation, headed by Bill Gates, did: "Having great teachers is the very key thing."

Given that individuals continue to be drawn to education in the abstract, why aren't young people lining up to actually teach? As directed by doc veteran Vanessa Roth, "American Teacher" answers this two ways, by talking to experts and by looking closely at the lives of four teachers.
Reason 1 for the lack of teachers is that, almost against reason, commentators on networks such as Fox News and in films such as "Waiting for Superman" have consistently demonized the profession.

As Dave Eggers and Ninive Calegari, two of the film's producers, wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece that likened teachers to soldiers, "When we don't get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don't blame the soldiers. We don't say, 'It's these lazy soldiers and their bloated benefit plans! That's why we haven't done better in Afghanistan!' No, if the results aren't there we blame the planners.... No one contemplates blaming the men and women fighting every day in the trenches for little pay and scant recognition."

That lack of basic respect is joined by a litany of other difficulties: lack of support from the education system, especially in terms of training; long hours that never quit and low salary. Teachers, we are told, make 14% less than other similarly educated professionals.

As a result, if you count coaching and advising in the mix, 62% of teachers have to take second jobs to make ends meet. And it's not just the money that matters: As one expert says, "Money has a catalytic effect." In other words, if salaries went up, perceptions about the profession would change as well.

In addition to laying out these general principles, "American Teacher" shows how they apply to the personal and professional lives of:

Erik Benner. A seventh-grade history teacher in Keller, Texas, Benner grew up in a trailer and teaches in part to show his students that education offers hope for all. Having to take time-intensive second and third jobs has a major effect on his family life.

Jonathan Dearman. A rare African American teacher in his San Francisco high school, Dearman is proud of being a role model for his students but faces pressures to leave the profession for the family real estate business.

Jamie Fidler. A second-generation educator who teaches first grade in Brooklyn, N.Y., Fidler is a dedicated professional who has difficulty balancing being a new mother with the demands of her job.

Rhena Jasey. A New Jersey teacher with a bachelor's degree from Harvard and two advanced degrees from Columbia, Jasey says her friends were frankly aghast that she chose such a low-paying, low-status job as her career.

Not surprisingly, the three countries whose students do best on standardized tests - Finland, Singapore and South Korea - approach the care and recruitment of teachers totally differently than we do.

As we watch the individuals in "American Teacher" struggle with the burdens the system places on them, it's hard not to feel like crying, both for them specifically and for our national culture. As one education authority laments after revealing his son's salary-based job choice, "Something's wrong when selling cellphones is more important to society than being a teacher."
------------------------------------
PHOTO SIDEBAR:  Jonathan Dearman, a high school teacher in San Francisco, faces pressure to leave the profession and join his family's real estate business. (www.theteachersalaryproject.org / September 30, 2011)
------------------------------------
****************************************************
-- 
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL  62901-4610
Phone:  (618) 453-4241  [O]
            (618) 457-8903  [H]
Fax:      (618) 453-4244
E-mail:   [hidden email]
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Re: What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us

Haim-5
Jerry P. Becker Posted: Sep 30, 2011 5:23 PM

>"Something's wrong when selling cellphones is more
>important to society than being a teacher."
 
   Yes, there is.  I wonder, does it have anything to do with the bad results of the schools?

   I am reminded of a comment by Babe Ruth.  In 1930, Ruth was asked by a reporter what he thought of his yearly salary of $80,000 being more than President Hoover's $75,000. His response, "I had a better year than Hoover."

   So yes, cell phone salesmen make more money.  But then, they offer a better product.

Haim
Shovel ready?  What shovel ready?
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Re: What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us

Paul A. Tanner III
- --- On Fri, 9/30/11, Haim <[hidden email]> wrote:

> From: Haim <[hidden email]>
> Subject: Re: What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us
> To: [hidden email]
> Date: Friday, September 30, 2011, 9:21 PM
> Jerry P. Becker Posted: Sep 30, 2011
> 5:23 PM
>
> >"Something's wrong when selling cellphones is more
> >important to society than being a teacher."
>  
>    Yes, there is.  I wonder, does it
> have anything to do with the bad results of the schools?
>
>    I am reminded of a comment by Babe
> Ruth.  In 1930, Ruth was asked by a reporter what he
> thought of his yearly salary of $80,000 being more than
> President Hoover's $75,000. His response, "I had a better
> year than Hoover."
>
>    So yes, cell phone salesmen make more
> money.  But then, they offer a better product.
>
> Haim
> Shovel ready?  What shovel ready?
>

If one offers a better product, then one makes more money? One offers a better product only if one makes more money?

In light of the fact that because of the many counterexamples that exist, both of the above implications are false:

"Cell phone salesmen" [think "metaphor] make more money than not only teachers, but our brave "in-the-trenches" men and women in the US military, not to mention our "in-the-trenches" police officers and firefighters and nurses, among many others. According to the conservative ethos of "money is the measure of all things, including all things good, decent, and honorable," these "cell phone salesmen" offer a better product than all these latter....More proof of the moral degeneracy of the ethos of conservatism.

With respect to this "bad results of the schools":

There are roughly 4 million people in the US of high school senior age, age 18. (And this includes all those of that age in school or any type of school [including even such as music or ballet schools] and all those of that age in no school. In addition to the fact that the high school senior age in some other countries is different than age 18, that's why I say "high school senior aged" rather than "age 18.") The exact number is a bit more than 4 million. There are presently roughly 300,000 who take and roughly 200,000 who pass an AP Calculus Exam. The exact number of those who pass is a little more than 200,000. This means that roughly 5% of the entire high school senior aged population of the US each year learns an entire year's worth of calculus well enough and held onto this knowledge and understanding long enough to pass a US AP Calculus exam.

It's a plain historical fact that this level of roughly 5% is the highest such level in US history. It's only improved over time. There is no such thing as some "good old days" when some higher percentage of the entire high school senior aged population was learning this much calculus this well. Just look at the history of high school curricula in the US as to what was even just offered in any such "good old days".

And to anyone who thinks that there's a whole bunch of other countries out there churning out a higher or even just as high a percentage as 5% of their entire high school senior aged populations that have learned an entire year's worth of calculus well enough and held onto this knowledge and understanding long enough to pass a US AP Calculus exam if they were given that test, my challenge still stands: Give a list of countries out of all 196 counties on the planet such that at least roughly 5% of their entire high school senior aged population (and this includes all those of that age in school or any type of school [including even such as music or ballet schools] and all those of that age in no school) learn calculus well enough and held onto this knowledge and understanding long enough to be able to pass a US AP Calculus Exam if they were given that test. I claim that you will find no or almost no such country outside of the US except perhaps those four
 East Asian countries of Japan, South Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Singapore.

Again, keep in mind that a US AP Calculus Exam covers an entire year of calculus, not just the equivalent of a one or two chapter introduction or such as that as might be found in some non-calculus class in some countries that cover some calculus. For a given country, you must provide some sort of verifiable data with respect to what percent of the entire high school senior aged population is exposed to calculus, and to what degree that exposure is - whether it is a whole year of calculus or merely something like a one chapter introduction in some non-calculus class. (I already granted that the four countries of Japan, South Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Singapore may be countries that could match and even have higher than 5% in this regard.)

(Note: If for a given country less than 5% of the entire high school senior aged population of that country is exposed to calculus, then, obviously, that country is out. We see below that one such country is Russia, where according to the TIMSS data I cited earlier, just a bit over 1% of their entire high school senior aged population ever takes an advanced math class.)

In light of this challenge, see below the TIMSS coverage or covering index for each of these following countries, where this coverage or covering index is the percentage of ALL high school senior aged people in the population that ever take an advanced math class in high school. (And this ALL means the same as above, which includes all those of that age in school or any type of school [including even such as music or ballet schools] and all those of that age in no school. In addition to the fact that the high school senior age in some other countries is different than age 18, that's why I say "high school senior aged" rather than "age 18.")

"TIMSS Advanced 2008 Sampling"
http://timss.bc.edu/timss_advanced/downloads/T08_TR_Chapter4.pdf

Exhibit 4.3 on page 55:

Look at the covering or coverage indexes of some countries, as to what percent of their ENTIRE high school senior aged populations take any advanced mathematics (which may or may not include some exposure to even the smallest amount of calculus for all the students in question):
Armenia 4.3%
Iran, 6.5%
Italy 19.7%
Lebanon 5.9%
Netherlands 3.5%
Norway 10.9%
Philippines 0.7%
Russian Federation 1.4%
Slovenia 40.5%
Sweden 12.8%

The wide range of coverage index percentages probably means that it's unclear whether "advanced math" is supposed to include only those students who have been exposed to some calculus. It seems that it's left to each country to decide this.

Roughly 600,000 in the US each year take a math course as seniors called "calculus" - roughly 15% of the entire high school senior aged population in the US takes a course during the senior year called calculus.

"AP(r) Calculus: What We Know"
http://www.maa.org/columns/launchings/launchings_06_09.html

Quote:

"In summary, my best guess is that about 575,000 high school students took a calculus course offered in their high school this past year."

And about half take the AP Calculus Exam (roughly 300,000) and about 2/3 of that half passes it (roughly 200,000), meaning roughly 5% of the entire high school senior aged population in the US each and every year learns calculus well enough and holds onto that knowledge and understand long enough to pass an AP Calculus Exam that covers an entire year of calculus.

But if "advanced math" includes every last advanced class beyond Algebra II - like statistics, trigonometry, analytic geometry, general precalculus, and other classes that cover such items as vectors and matrices and discrete math, combinatorics, number theory, etc., then, since very many who take these classes do not take calculus in high school, the covering or coverage index of the US could be as high or higher than roughly double that 15%, which would be as high or higher than 30%.

Note that according to TIMSS, only a tad over 1% of the entire high school senior aged population in Russia ever takes an advanced math course. (This, versus 15-30 percent for the US, depending on how one defines "advanced math".)

Of course, assuming that all of that 1% is Russia is exposed to a whole year of calculus, even if a much higher percentage of that Russian 1% learns calculus well enough to pass the US AP Calculus Exam than the roughly 33% of that 15% in the US, roughly 5% is still much larger than any percentage (between 0-100%) of 1%.

As to how these US calculus students who took an AP Calculus Exam would compare to the rest of the world, and as to how these US calculus students who pass an AP Calculus Exam would compare to the rest of the world, here is a study that looked at just that:

"How Well Do Advanced Placement Students
Perform on the TIMSS Advanced Mathematics
and Physics Tests?"
http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/repository/ap01.pdf.ti_7958.pdf

Quote:

"A student is considered to have passed the AP Calculus Exam if she or he obtains an AP Exam grade of 3 or above. Exhibit 5 shows the average achievement of AP Calculus students receiving this passing score compared with those AP Calculus students scoring below 3. Students could choose to take the AP Calculus AB or AP Calculus BC exam. For both of the AP Calculus Examinations, students receiving a grade of 3 or above performed better on the TIMSS Advanced Mathematics test than those who did not. Students who received a grade of 3 or above on the AP Calculus AB Exam had an average scale score of 586, while those receiving a grade of less than 3 had an average scale score of 565, for a difference of 21 scale score points. A much larger difference of 69 scale score points is seen in the students who took the Calculus BC Exam. AP Calculus students receiving a grade of 3 or above on the AP Calculus BC Exam scored an average scale score of 633, while those
 receiving a grade of less than 3 had an average scale score of 564. Furthermore, students who obtained a grade of 3 or above on either of the AP Calculus Exams obtained an average score of 596 (3.2) on the TIMSS Advanced Mathematics test, outperforming all other countries."

Note that Exhibit 3 shows that when ALL the students in AP calculus in the US - regardless of how well they did on the AP Calculus Exam - are averaged in, their score of 573 ended up higher than all other countries in the test. (At the time when this study was conducted, about maybe a half-decade after the 1995 TIMSS 12th grade test, there were roughly 150,000 students taking an AP Calculus exam, roughly half the present number.)

Why did the US as a whole do so badly just a few years before in that 1995 12th grade TIMSS test? It's probably because of this fact: Roughly 25% of all of the test questions were calculus questions, and the VAST majority of students sent to represent the US were never exposed to calculus. That means that the highest raw percentage the VAST majority of US students could ever hope to score would be 75%. Why did this happen? Because the US was asked to define "advanced math" as including anything below calculus until the coverage index reached roughly at least 10%. In the early 1990s the US had roughly 100,000 taking an AP calculus exam, which is only about 1/3 of what it is now, roughly 300,000. Assuming a slightly smaller number of high school senior aged people at that time, only roughly 3% of the high school senior aged population took an AP Calculus exam vs. roughly 7.5% now. Since the US coverage index on that TIMSS 12th grade test was 13.7%, the
 vast majority of those representing the US were not AP calculus students. (NOTE: In the US curriculum calculus is not taught unless and until a student got into a calculus class. In other countries like Japan, this is not the case. By the English translations I have of Japanese high school math textbooks, Japanese 11th grade students are taught some introductory calculus in their pre-calculus level classes. If these other countries all over the rest of the world did this sort of thing, then the US would have been virtually alone in sending a group of students to represent the country such that the vast majority had no exposure to the type of math on 25% of the test questions.)

P.S. To anticipate: I have always said that, in spite of the better job the US does of broadly educating its entire population in advanced math than almost all other countries in the world BY THE FURTHER ABOVE MEASURE, the US could and should do a better job of educating many of its more gifted students and many of its students of lower socioeconomic status.

With respect to the latter type of student, see the information below provided by PISA as to how the US does not do as well as many other countries in educating its lower SES students:

"Lessons from PISA
for the United States"
http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/32/50/46623978.pdf

See Figure 2.4 page 34. Look at how all the countries compare to each other. Although the US does not do the worse job in terms of the relationship between strength of the performance and socio-economic background, many of the other rich OECD countries do better, even much better. And this chart also shows that there is more and evebn much more income equality throughout its population.

These facts that the chart clearly shows that the US has a higher percentage of its population that is lower SES and does a worse job at educating this lower SES population goes a long way in helping to explain why the total average US score on PISA is lower than those other countries, and this, in spite of the US doing a better job than almost all other countries in the world as shown further above at educating its broad middle-and-most-upper-parts of the its population at advanced math by the further above measure.

In spite of the fact that the US could and should do a better job of educating many of its more gifted students and many of its students of lower socioeconomic status, so many conservatives steadfastly refuse to give any credit where credit is due, even when much credit is due by such facts as the above, the US doing a better job than just about every other country in the world on some measures such as the further above measure. This is yet more proof that these conservatives should not be taken seriously in their criticisms of US public education.
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Re: What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us

Robert Hansen
In reply to this post by Jerry Becker
Haim wrote...

"So yes, cell phone salesmen make more money. But then, they offer a better product."

Making a better product doesn't always mean better pay. There also has to be a market for the product and that is what limits a teacher's salary in all countries. There is only so much that society is able or willing to devote to public education. I think what has limited teachers' salaries the most is a complete lack of attention to the bottom line. And this goes for the rest of our government funded programs. Given the amount of money spent per student, teachers could actually have a decent wage (decent doesn't mean those ridiculous figures Duncan mentioned). But this money is squandered on so many things and spread very thin by too many programs that have very little to show for them.

I guess my point is that we (the taxpayers) give the schools a considerable amount of money and when we hear that teachers want even more money we react on the basis of the considerable amount we are already giving schools, not on what finally makes it into a teacher's paycheck. If teachers want more pay they might want to look at how and why that money gets so diluted by the time it gets to them.

Bob Hansen
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Re: What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us

Haim-5
In reply to this post by Jerry Becker
Robert Hansen Posted: Oct 1, 2011 12:06 PM

>I guess my point is that we (the taxpayers) give the
>schools a considerable amount of money and when we hear
>that teachers want even more money we react on the basis
>of the considerable amount we are already giving
>schools, not on what finally makes it into a teacher's
>paycheck. If teachers want more pay they might want to
>look at how and why that money gets so diluted by the
>time it gets to them.

Robert,

   Since I have been making exactly this point for years, and it is the very point that alienated Richard Strausz, I am hardly the one to argue against it.

   When we pay our taxes, of course we are not paying individual teachers, we are sending money to the Education Mafia, and quite of a lot of it---in the neighborhood of $500 BBBillion ANNUALLY (do you remember when a $billion seemed like a lot of money?).  Exactly what the Education Mafia do with all our money is another matter, entirely.

   Richard Strausz complains that he does not see that money in his classroom (or in his paycheck).  I am sure that is true, but that is not our fault:  we send in a torrent of money.  If that money is not getting to Richard, it seems to me there are at least the two following explanations:

(1) the Education Mafia have better uses for the money, or
(2) the Education Mafia are corrupt

   I suppose there is a third possibility:

(3) the Education Mafia are stupid

   I dismiss "stupid" out of hand.  That the Education Mafia are corrupt is clear enough.  In years past, it was child's play to sift through the internet for a few minutes to discover mounds and mounds of financial corruption among the Education Mafia (NJ was a goldmine for this sort of thing).  Lately, one has to sift through the internet for only a few minutes to discover mounds and mounds of educational malpractice, especially of the test-cheating variety.

   And yet, I still consider corruption to be the lesser defect.  I think the main defect in the Education Mafia is that they have what they think are better uses for the money.  If Richard Strausz wants more money in his classroom and in his pocket, he misses the mark by criticizing me.  I pay my taxes, and we taxpayers send a veritable torrent of money to his institution.  If he wants to change the way that torrent of money is allocated, he needs to take up the issue with his friends in the Education Mafia.

   The one dog that will not hunt anymore is their shrill demand for yet more money from the public fisc.  No!  Make better use of the money you are already getting.


Haim
Shovel ready?  What shovel ready?
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Re: What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us

Paul A. Tanner III
- --- On Sat, 10/1/11, Haim <[hidden email]> wrote:

> From: Haim <[hidden email]>
> Subject: Re: What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us
> To: [hidden email]
> Date: Saturday, October 1, 2011, 1:33 PM
> Robert Hansen Posted: Oct 1, 2011
> 12:06 PM
>
>
>    When we pay our taxes, of course we are
> not paying individual teachers, we are sending money to the
> Education Mafia, and quite of a lot of it---in the
> neighborhood of $500 BBBillion ANNUALLY (do you remember
> when a $billion seemed like a lot of money?).  Exactly
> what the Education Mafia do with all our money is another
> matter, entirely.
...
> If Richard Strausz wants more
> money in his classroom and in his pocket, he misses the mark
> by criticizing me.  I pay my taxes, and we taxpayers
> send a veritable torrent of money to his institution.
> If he wants to change the way that torrent of money is
> allocated, he needs to take up the issue with his friends in
> the Education Mafia.
>

More corrections needed to counter the nonsense of conservative propaganda (yet again, par for the course):

The US does not spend that much on education in comparison to a number of other countries - it's not a torrent when we compare to other countries by the measure of percentage of GDP and by the measure of per-student.

And notice this: Almost without exception, those countries that presently or usually these past many years have had larger per-capita GDPs than the US also spend more than the US on education on a per-student basis as well as a percentage of GDP. These countries include Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland:

(spending per student - click on map for better view and scroll to the right)
http://www.realonlinedegrees.com/education-spending-gdp-around-the-world/

(percentage of GDP)
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/edu_edu_spe-education-spending-of-gdp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita

(In both of these last two above pages, see the page history to see the different numbers for the different years.)

Well, well. Do we really need to go into why it is that almost without exception, a county is richer than the US on a per-capita GDP basis only if that country spends more money per-student and as a percentage of GDP?

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Re: What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us

Robert Hansen
In reply to this post by Jerry Becker
Paul wrote...

"The US does not spend that much on education in comparison to a number of other countries - it's not a torrent when we compare to other countries by the measure of percentage of GDP and by the measure of per-student."

Compared to all countries, or to a number of countries (cherry) picked by Paul? And besides, you have been saying how good a job the US is doing in education, compared even to these cherry picked countries, so there doesn't even seem to be that reason left to increase the sizable amount we already pay. We seem to be paying enough, no? Or do you run out and pay everyone that works for you and does their job extra?

You are not the first teacher to come up with very bad arguments that insult our senses. In fact, I suggest that a lot of the animosity against teachers comes from these contradictory and contrived (cherry picked) arguments (like yours) that some teachers shout. I provided a sensible and possible reason that teacher's pay, especially new teachers, is on the low side, and you say it is propaganda invented by a conservative conspiracy. Well, it seems to me that conservatives AND non conservatives are both questioning the EDUCATION = $$$$$ formula you seem to be stuck on. I don't see anyone saying that if we tax the rich it will fix all of our problems. You need to understand, public funds are not going up Paul because it is not mathematically feasible. We have a 40% deficit and no matter how creative we get with new taxes it will not equal that. It will equal a portion of that and the rest will have to be CUTS. It isn't MORE TAXES and MORE SPEND. It is MORE TAXES AND LESS SPEN!
D. So if you are actually wanting to improve the pay of teachers I would seriously consider that you start looking at how we spend what we got because there isn't going to be more. It will probably be less. And that includes what we spend in all facets of public education. That 500 billion dollar monster (according to Haim).

And stay off wikipedia. I can't explain it but something is critically wrong with wikipedia as an intelligence. Follow what the silent majority do on these things. Work hard, pay your mortgage, raise your kids, pay your taxes. If you notice that you begin to not be able to do those things, then vote out whoever is in office, regardless of party. That seems to go for education as well. The silent majority seem to have the right mindset on these things. They are not interested in your hypothetical arguments or mine. They are interested with results and when they don't get them they replace the people running the show.

Bob Hansen
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Re: What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us

Louis Talman

On Oct 1, 2011, at 7:02 PM, Robert Hansen wrote:

> The silent majority seem to have the right mindset on these things.

Those who cite a "silent majority" always do seem so with touching faith that said "majority" supports the citer in his or her own political ideas.

If there be such a majority, the one thing we can say about it (it is, by definition, *silent* about its stances) is that it is, at best, fickle. It elected W twice, and then made an about face to elect Obama.

In fact, I suggest that this alleged silent majority is, like the moral majority of yesteryear, neither.


- --Lou Talman
  Department of Mathematical & Computer Sciences
  Metropolitan State College of Denver

  <http://rowdy.mscd.edu/%7Etalmanl>
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Re: What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us

Paul A. Tanner III
In reply to this post by Robert Hansen
- --- On Sat, 10/1/11, Robert Hansen <[hidden email]> wrote:

> From: Robert Hansen <[hidden email]>
> Subject: Re: What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us
> To: [hidden email]
> Date: Saturday, October 1, 2011, 9:02 PM
> Paul wrote...
>
> "The US does not spend that much on education in comparison
> to a number of other countries - it's not a torrent when we
> compare to other countries by the measure of percentage of
> GDP and by the measure of per-student."
>
> Compared to all countries, or to a number of countries
> (cherry) picked by Paul?

Compared to all countries. You evidently did not look at the chart comparing countries in terms of education spending as a percentage of GDP. It shows the US as 37th out of 126 countries.

And it is not cherry picking when I'm pointing out patterns in the data, such as what I refer to next:

> And besides, you have been saying
> how good a job the US is doing in education, compared even
> to these cherry picked countries, so there doesn't even seem
> to be that reason left to increase the sizable amount we
> already pay. We seem to be paying enough, no?

I pointed out the brute fact that almost every country that is or has most of the past recent years a per-capita nominal GDP larger than the US invests more per-pupil and as a percentage of GDP than the US. I claim that this fact is no accident, and that it shows that investing more on education is a statistically necessary condition for greater growth and prosperity. (If you do not know the difference between sufficient and necessary conditions, and the difference between conditions that are and conditions that are not statistical, I suggest that you educate yourself about them.)

> I don't
> see anyone saying that if we tax the rich it will fix all of
> our problems. You need to understand, public funds are not
> going up Paul because it is not mathematically feasible. We
> have a 40% deficit and no matter how creative we get with
> new taxes it will not equal that. It will equal a portion of
> that and the rest will have to be CUTS. It isn't MORE TAXES
> and MORE SPEND. It is MORE TAXES AND LESS SPEN!

You are as wrong as wrong can be. You evidently are taken in by that Fox News / Rush Limbaugh conservative propaganda, which gets much of its effect from not telling people anywhere near the whole truth.

Much of that whole truth they don't tell people is what I've been saying.

And this includes the plain fact of mathematical economics that if the Bush tax cuts never happened, if we had simply kept everything the sameas it was under Clinton, then presently there would either be no yearly deficits at all or the yearly deficits would be so low that the total debt of the US as a percentage of GDP would be doing no worse than statistically tracking sideways. And that's with only a 39% top tax bracket. If we had put all taxes at the beginning of the 21st century at where they were for the 35 years after WWII, we would really be able to fund even a big government, just like we did back then. (The top tax bracket was in the 70%-90% range during all that time.)

And then there is the example of all those countries that are or usually have been richer than the US in terms of per-capita nominal GDP: Their federal governments have for many years been taking in government revenue roughly double or tripe or even almost quadruple the US federal government in terms of percentage of nominal GDP of the country, yet they have for all these years been growing faster and being more prosperous than the US, and via vast amounts of democratic socialism, taken care of their own populations vastly better than the US in terms of the basics, whether that be food, shelter, or health care. (Again, see those charts I cite.)

The facts of the whole truth simply prove you wrong when you implicitly claim that it is impossible for a country to do or have what these countries in fact do and have.

> D. So if you are actually wanting to improve the pay of
> teachers I would seriously consider that you start looking
> at how we spend what we got because there isn't going to be
> more. It will probably be less. And that includes what we
> spend in all facets of public education. That 500 billion
> dollar monster (according to Haim).

Again, it's not a monster. The proper way of measuring these things is on a per-student basis or a percentage-of-GDP basis. Absolute numbers by themselves mean nothing because they do not take into count how big a country's population is or how big a country's GDP is.

Side note: This desire of conservatives to talk only about absolute numbers with no reference to how big a country's population is or how big a country's GDP is shows what I talk about above, which is that conservatism is not only not about telling people the whole truth, but is about trying to have people not know the whole truth.

>
> And stay off wikipedia. I can't explain it but something is
> critically wrong with wikipedia as an intelligence.

The facts of the whole truth again prove you wrong. The actual published studies done that compare the accuracy of Wikipedia to the accuracy of the established encyclopedias show that Wikipedia is about as accurate. Here's one older report in a mainline media outlet on one such study:

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2005-12-14-nature-wiki_x.htm

Quote:

"Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that relies on volunteers to pen nearly 4 million articles, is about as accurate in covering scientific topics as Encyclopedia Britannica, the journal Nature wrote in an online article published Wednesday."

And Wikipedia has only gotten better since then in terms of accuracy and by other measures.

Here's a newer study:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_116511.html

Quote:

"The facts about cancer found on the website Wikipedia are about as accurate as the information on the disease found on the patient-oriented section of the U.S. National Cancer Institute's Physician Data Query (PDQ), a comprehensive peer-reviewed cancer database, according to a new study.

'The purpose of this study was to answer one question: Is the cancer information on Wikipedia correct? Reassuringly, we found that errors were extremely rare on Wikipedia. But the way information was presented on PDQ is more patient-friendly,' Lawrence said.

...

The study, released online in advance of print publication in the Journal of Oncology Practice, revealed that less than 2 percent of the information on either Wikipedia or PDQ did not coincide with the facts found in textbooks.

...

The main difference between Wikipedia and the PDQ site was their readability. Wikipedia was written at a college level, while PDQ was written so that a 9th grader could understand it."

And if you can find a more accurate and comprehensive article about the accuracy of Wikipedia than this article
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia
then let's see it.

Besides, everyone knows that Wikipedia is best used as merely an introduction to a subject, although it is an introduction that has been confirmed scientifically to be about as accurate than the established encyclopedias. In this light: The most important part of Wikipedia is its citations. For instance, take the page that shows how large various countries are in term of per-capita GDP. The only thing that matters on this are the citations or the sources for the charts, such as the CIA World Factbook, the IMF, and the World Bank. To do what Fox News and Rush Limbaugh want you to do - disbelieve everything in Wikipedia that is at odds with the propaganda of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh - is to reject the world's most authoritative sources for such data (such as the CIA, the IMF, and the World Bank) and to instead believe what these cranks (crackpots) at Fox News and on right-wing talk radio say in their ignorance.

Ultimately, the problem you have with Wikipedia or anything else I cite is this: You are evidently experiencing some sort of cognitive dissonance because the facts I give tell some part of the whole truth that your conservative sources of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh don't want you to know.

Side note: According to a University of Maryland study, those who get their information mostly from Fox News are much more misinformed than the viewers of other media:

"Extended exposure to Fox News makes voters stupid, university study finds"
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/16/study-confirms-spin-fox-news-voters-stupid/ 

Quote:

"A University of Maryland study (PDF) published earlier this month found that people in the survey who had the most exposure to Fox News were more likely to believe falsehoods and rumors about national and world affairs when compared to those who paid attention to other news outlets.

...

Virtually all the leading GOP candidates are paid contributors for the network [this was true at the time of the writing of the article], and over 30 Fox News personalities have endorsed Republicans in the past."
 
So instead of you telling me to disregard the facts, such as found at Wikipedia, I'll tell you to disregard the darkness of conservative propaganda, which flees from the light of the whole truth.

 
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Re: What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us

Robert Hansen
In reply to this post by Jerry Becker
Lou wrote...

"If there be such a majority, the one thing we can say about it (it is, by definition, *silent* about its stances) is that it is, at best, fickle. It elected W twice, and then made an about face to elect Obama."

Well, life is fickle Lou. It is like the weather. The same scenario you mention has happened before, remember Carter?

"In fact, I suggest that this alleged silent majority is, like the moral majority of yesteryear, neither."

I don't think I suggested "moral" and the label "silent" is complex. I know this much though. The majority of these people working, paying taxes and raising families don't ascribe to the rhetoric, no matter how well devised, we exchange here. They make desicions based on much more basic needs, wants and desires. And the morality they leave up to the churches they attend. Likely, you have come to know this to and have chosen your ivory isolation because of it. And I am not saying I blame you.

Bob Hansen