Sorry I missed this discussion.
In a message dated 11/27/2012 7:06:18 A.M. Central Standard Time,
[address removed] writes:
11/20/12 questions and discussion
1-why do we have
2-should free speech have a monetary limit?5
3-what do we
prefer in the Middle East: secular dictators who play nice with the US, or
democratically elected religious politicians.7
4-has humanity’s happiness
increased as time has gone by since the pursuit of knowledge began?8
is human nature?6
6-can we make observations without value judgements and
if not what’s the implication?4
7-which parts of public education are worth
8-if privacy is lost in a society is that society destined for
which parts of
public education are worth saving?
Sara: I study this in school -- plan
on becoming a teacher after graduation. Reading a book “The Privatization of
Education”. It's about public education's death. What is public education and
what parts of it are most important? I define public education as a free and
accessible/appropriate education provided for every American.
you include colleges of all kinds?
Sara: yes. But let’s emphasize the
Jim: which aspects of public education are most important
Shannon: with the way
society has gone, teaching has become more about discipline and accommodation
to various interests in society and less about learning.
changed even since I was in grade school! Education has always been very local
so the kinds of changes depend. Some teachers have no problem with discipline.
The economy and policy changes have seriously affected public
Jon: the actor Matt Damon's mother is a public school
teacher. He recently spoke out against teacher merit pay. A journalist from a
Libertarian/conservative media asked if as an actor isn't his job security
dependent on merit? He replied "what makes you think job security is why I'm
an actor?" His mom, standing next to him, looked very proud of him in that
moment. She was a teacher because she loved teaching, not because she sought
Dick: I have a son and daughter-in-law who are teachers.
Their districts are becoming the targets of Teach for America, an organization
that ostensibly intends to improve the American education system. They pursue
quick and dirty school reform, using improperly trained
Marla: who are they supported by?
Dick: Koch brothers,
corporations, conservative organizations.
David: (to Sara) what is
Sara: non-core subjects (other than reading, math, science).
Jim: is the Teach for America system focusing on those core subjects
due to not getting good results at present?
Sara: no, I think it’s
about the "accountability movement."
Jim: my kids went to a private
high school, when they got to college it was a breeze but their peers were at
a loss. Their private educations better prepared them for college than their
public educated peers.
Shannon: how does public and private ed
Dick: I went to parochial school, every day we spent one hour
on religion and we still had sports, band and gym. Schools have lost the
emphasis on the individual in favor of what the capitalist machine
Sara: what’s valuable is it being free. Private school is not
free. They also have a very specific set of mission statements. Public schools
must be much more diverse.
David: both my kids went through school. I
don’t think there’s really been a change as to how things are taught, even
compared to when I attended school.
Sara: there have absolutely been
serious changes. Some public have uniforms (which has not had the intended
results). Teachers are expected now to do different things. They realized that
a controlled room is better for learning. It's also clear that
mass-testing/teaching to the test is a bad idea.
Jim: the difference
between public and private is: who’s in charge at a public school? Parents,
teachers, principals? There’s no boss. A mission like education requires a
boss. Public ed has too many cooks in the kitchen. If I had the job I would
know what to do!
Sara: what do you know that the professional doing
this work don't already know? Principals are in charge in public
Jim: I’m convinced I would be a benevolent
David: in private school parents care more than most parents
in public schools.
Sara: that train of thought is dangerous! Vested
interests like Bill Gates are the big money behind magnet and charter
programs. Gates met with Governors to influence their thinking on this issue
(he's pro charter/magnet schools). He's part of a movement by "Venture
philanthropists." What happens next? Powerful men have a vested interest in
school "choice", so what happens? Unions are kept out, for one. Charter
schools need to be able to fire people and unions get in the way of that.
Venture philanthropy always leads to charter schools. Their intentions are
good but these leaders have no experience in teaching. Hours in the classroom
are more important than theories on education.
Shannon: I come from a
family of teachers, I have worked as a coach in schools. It seemed to get more
difficult with time because they’d get kids who had less and less of the basic
needs leading to learning. The occasional parent would say it’s not their kids
it’s the teachers who are at fault.
Marla: I agree with David as to
parent involvement. We now have no more stay at home parents. Parents are so
much busier with lots more distractions that weren’t here in the 50s.
Increased testing/teaching for tests irritates me. School administration that
doesn’t monitor teachers is bad. There has to be someone in
Jon: what would you save?
Jon: what do we want saved?
Sara: procedures that are
Phillip: concentrate on basics. Emphasis on the long term
both as teacher and as students.
Lynn: how we set priorities for what
we do in schools. What we have now doesn’t seem best related to what is
wanted/needed. Too much politics now.
Dick: physical education and
civics and sociology
Sara: well-rounded democratic
Steve: lock step vs. the ways people learn. Flexibility is
Richard: lunch! What’s missing is the general pursuit of
knowledge. The means aren’t as relevant as long as that’s
Jim: one thing: free education, open to all.
Jon: imagination and discipline.
worth saving in its present form. Too many hands in the pie. Too many levels,
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