Saturday, January 14, 2006

Stupid in America

ABC's 20/20
"The best thing that you could do to fix the problem, is allow competition and close the bad schools."

Aired last night [Friday], 20/20 did a real good job of investigating why schools are having poor scores compared to other schools in the world
Jan. 13, 2006 — "Stupid in America" is a nasty title for a program about public education, but some nasty things are going on in America's public schools and it's about time we face up to it.

When I was watching the show I was wondering about the kids that they were interviewing. how did they pick them? Were they the best of the best, or just average children?
20/20 wanted to tape a typical class room, but was turned down for New York city schools, and all but the hand picked schools in Washington D.C.
One was Woodrow Wilson High. Newsweek says it's one of the best schools in America. Yet what the students taped didn't inspire confidence.

According to a Gallup poll in the article, they claim that 76% of Americans were completely or somewhat satisfied with their kids public school.

Education reformer Kevin Chavous and many other education professionals say," Americans don't know that their public schools, on the whole, just aren't that good. Because without competition, parents don't know what their kids might have had."
And while many people say, "We need to spend more money on our schools," there actually isn't a link between spending and student achievement."

The show compared two schools. One after an outcry about money was given a large grant. they use the money to buy Olympic size swimming pool and gyms. They also bought computers and other tools for the students, this increased the cost per student to $9000. [sound familiar?] The results showed no improvement in the test scores.

The second school working on a voucher system did not have the new fancy things as above. No computers, pools or gym equipment, and they showed no improvement in test scores. The cost per student, $3000. 20/20 also pointed out that there was a waiting line to get in to this school, and enrollment was done by lottery.

Jay Greene, author of "Education Myths," points out that "If money were the solution, the problem would already be solved … We've doubled per pupil spending, adjusting for inflation, over the last 30 years, and yet schools aren't better."
He's absolutely right. National graduation rates and achievement scores are flat, while spending on education has increased more than 100 percent since 1971. More money hasn't helped American kids.
Ben Chavis is a former public school principal who now runs an alternative charter school in Oakland, Calif., that spends thousands of dollars less per student than the surrounding public schools. He laughs at the public schools' complaints about money.
"That is the biggest lie in America. They waste money," he said.

"Monopoly Kills Innovation and Cheats Kids"
Not having a choice of where to send your kids for their education creates the monopoly and makes the schools less responsive to the children's needs.
Inspector John Lozano of[San Jose, California, works for the district going door-to-door to check if kids really live where they say they live. And even seeing that a child is present at a particular address isn't enough. Lozano says he needs to look inside the house to make sure the student really lives there.
Think about what he's doing. The school district police send him into your daughter's bedroom. He even goes through drawers and closets if he has to.

I would hope that he had a search warrant if he wanted to come into my house
20/20 article on the Web has a pretty good summary of the show and in my opinion makes some excellent points. The lack of competition, and the lack of choice makes the system a monopoly with no incentive for improvement and not responsive to their clients [students] needs.
They make an excellent argument of how throwing money at the problem just does not work.
In my own experience when I reminded one of the department heads that I am the customer and you are providing a service that I am paying for, his reply was, "if that was actually the case then that would make us a business." My reply, "and you're here because?"
If you missed the show last night, I highly recommend looking at the videos and reading the article available at the link above.


Blogger Diesel said...

Good points Robin, most of which I agree with. I only caught the last half hour or so of the program, but from what I did see, there were a lot of questions I thought of about what Stossel DIDN'T show in his program. Check out the Diesel Shack for my thoughts.

8:38 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

I checked out your blog and you make some excellent points.

I agree with you 100% that it is very unreasonable to expect anybody especially if they are not paid extra to be on call 24 hours a day.

While I don't agree with 100% of what the show presented, I will agree that competition is healthy and the thinking that we should just keep throwing money at schools to fix the problem is unrealistic. We are not an endless supply of money.

Even our own government is telling us that they are predicting that are students are not qualified for high tech jobs and thus the need to increase the number of visas to fill the educational gap.

This is BS. The people in America are not stupid, but we are treated like we are stupid.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Dare!PDX said...

The one flaw in the complaints about US school system is the end result of our University system and economy.

The US has a school system trailing behind most others in the first world yet has a university system head and shoulders above the rest of the world. The wealthy of the world seek American schools for their bachelors and post-graduate education.

We also lead the world as an economic power-house and in productivity. The real issue is that america's K-12 allows those who don't perform to waste the time of our education system and other students.

I personally believe that our system is perfectly fine but the lack of holding students responsible for their own performance is the real issue. When you require all students to participate, including those who don't want to be there, you are going to get poor test scores.

Notice how US Universities hold failing students responsible and kick them out. Magically the same students in the same national culture performs exceptionally even though the schools are public. (The requirement of a shared cost of education is also partially responsible as well).

2:43 AM  
Blogger Boze Noze said...


American universities operate in free market competition with each other. There in lies the reason for the resulting excellence.

The american economy is great due to our level of economic freedom. But that economic freedom is being slowly eroded as is our standing in the world economy.

I host high scool age foreign exchange students and with few exceptions, they are 4.0 students even as ESL students. Something is wrong with our K-12 system and I think Stossel is spot on. No competition, no free market.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What role do parents play in their child's education? No one seems to hold parents responsible for their child's education? Why is that? They must be part of the equation and be held accountable.

7:46 PM  
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