Saturday, January 14, 2006

Education: Then and Now

Here is a facinating article by Thomas Sowell. He talks about going to an all-black school in Charlotte, N.C. in the 1930s. His family moved to NYC, and Thomas had to struggle to catch up academically, in an all-black school in Harlem. He later joined the Marines, who were very impressed with his high academic scores on their tests, and that other New Yorker's with him also scored high.

Now, many years later, kids in Charlotte score much higher than kids in NYC and other big American cities, and Thomas has a good look at the reasons WHY. Some exerpts:

...New York City has two kinds of high school diplomas -- its own locally recognized diploma, that is not recognized by the state or by many colleges, and the state's Regents' diploma for high school graduates who have scored above a given level on the Regents' exam.

The Regents diploma is for students who are serious about going on to a good college. Only 9 percent of black students and 10 percent of Latino students receive Regents diplomas.

That a Southern city's school children would now top the list of big city test scores may be due to the fact that the South has not jumped on the bandwagon of the latest fads in education to the same extent as avant garde places like New York City, where spending per pupil is about 50 percent above the national average.

These fads now include the dogma that racial "diversity" improves education, as does emphasis on racial "identity." In reality, a recent study shows that black students who perform well in racially integrated schools are unpopular with their black classmates. They are accused of "acting white," a charge that can bring anything from ostracism to outright violence...

I remember one of our neighbors kids in San Francisco got straight F's in English in his senior year. He was told he might have to attend summer school to make it up before he was allowed to graduate and recieve his diploma. That made sense to me.The kid needs to graduate, but he also needs passing grades, right?

So I was shocked when the school decided that he not only DIDN'T have to attend summer school, but they were going to instead sent him on an overseas trip to Thailand for the Summer! He didn't have the money for the trip, the school, a PUBLIC school, got it for him somehow. He was thrilled of course, but I thought, that's a funny way to teach someone the value of good grades... teach them it doesn't matter. He got his diploma, and a free vacation, with failing grades.

He went on to college at a state univeristy, one outside of the city... and dropped out the first year. He said he didn't like it, but I wondered if he could even keep up?

So WHY are the teachers in SF the most highly paid in California? I've heard some of them say that they don't even believe in testing or grades, that it just interferes with learning. Yeah, right. Testing and grades also help people judge wether or not the teachers are doing their job or not, which I suspect is why they don't "believe" in them.

Here is the Link to Thomas Sowell's excellent article.

1 comment:

Chas said...

Many would argue that even if you don't have kids, we all as a nation benefit from having an educated population. It should make them more employable, and smarter voters, ideally.

But without accountability and competition, public schools are just government supported brainwashing camps. If even the socialist countries of Europe can get better results than we can, then our system of education is really screwed up.

In San Francisco, teachers were taking their students out of the classroom to do anti-war protests, and giving them class credit for it. "Social studies" they called it.

Some of the parents complained, and said they felt that was inappropriate; that their children were being cynically used for political purposes. They were ignored. Why? Because the teachers in SF are unionized, and are not accountable to parents.

Arlene Ackerman, a woman with a reputation for turning around bad inner city schools, was hired to turn the SF school system around. She has achieved some great results, but the teachers unions have fought her every step of the way, as well as the leftist press and the SF board of supervisors.

In fact, she's been hounded so much that she recently resigned her position before her contract was up. She is much sought after by other cities who need her help, and didn't need to put up with the constant attacks. That's too bad, because it's the kids that will suffer. And that is a major reason why families with kids are leaving the city in droves.