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Blue Model Schools
Teacher Training Doesn’t Work

Taxpayers are spending vast sums of money on time-consuming teacher development programs that don’t actually improve teaching quality, according to a study conducted by The New Teacher Project. The Washington Post reports:

“We are bombarding teachers with a lot of help, but the truth is, it’s not helping all that much,” said Dan Weisberg, TNTP’s chief executive. “We are not approaching this in a very smart way. We’re basically throwing a lot of things against the wall and not even looking to see whether it works…”

The school districts that participated in the study spent an average of $18,000 per teacher annually on professional development. Based on that figure, TNTP estimates that the 50 largest school districts spend an estimated $8 billion on teacher development annually. That is far larger than previous estimates.

The conventional wisdom in many quarters is that to improve our education system, we simply need to boost education spending. But we’ve already tried that; education spending has gone up for years, and schools have used the money to add more administrators, more classroom aides, and more training programs. There is very little sign that any of this has done much good. American school districts typically overspend on things that don’t matter much while stiffing the things that really do.

Some of the most promising reform strategies would not necessarily require costly new programs. We should be encouraging smaller schools, more local competition, more parental choice, and more freedom for teachers to teach as they wish. At the same time, we should be cutting down on the number of education bureaucrats and scaling back meaningless teaching doctorates and masters programs. The savings could be used to boost the pay of effective teachers, and usher in a more competitive educational culture.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    I believe there is such a thing as a “natural teacher”—–one who relates well to children of particular ages, who actually tries to love and inspire each student because he/she wants and NEEDS to actually love the kids, who is a wizard at being “in the moment”, who can control a classroom with the air of high expectations, and who can explain most any concept in several different ways. Some of them could probably do a yeoman job on nothing but a Bachelor’s, maybe even the equivalent of an Associate’s degree. In most classes, the teacher is doing the same material over and over and over again. The magic is the passion with which it is done, not whether the teacher has been trained in a bunch of higher-level material not ever taught in the teacher’s class.

    We need to be funneling those people into education and PROTECTING their spirits from superintendents, principals, curriculum companies, ridiculous “team” talk, off-point “evaluations”, crazy parents, over-written school policy manuals, school law enforcement and state/federal bureaucrats. Rock-solid tenure is one of the ways this can be done, but—-of-course—-you only want the real heroes so tenured, and that’s tricky.

    • Anthony

      There’s nothing to disagree with here FG (assuming one’s interest is in giving children what they need rigorously educationally).

    • Andrew Allison

      You are describing how teaching used to be before being overtaken by mediocrity and bureaucracy. You omitted the biggest single culprit, namely teachers unions.

      • Pete

        When asked what is the greatest detriment to public education today, NJ Governor Chris Christie correctly answered,”The teachers unions.”

      • FriendlyGoat

        Good teaching requires teachers to be courageous and sometimes stand against hard students, nutty parents and bad politics of various kinds in the schools. The unions have offered a form of protection for many teachers, and I believe that is why many teachers have gravitated to them. I think I’d rather see a school full of tenured people than a school with a union. I think back to my own childhood teachers. Many to most of them stayed in our small school system (about 100 kids per grade level) like “forever”—–multiple decades. I don’t know whether they had tenure or not—–I think they did, and I never heard of any union mentioned. But some of them were sort of quirky, acted (responsibly) as if they owned the place, and STAYED through thick and thin. Maybe I was just a kid and didn’t know the pressures on them, but I think they were protected by something. And I think that was positive.

        • f1b0nacc1

          I commented on your tenure proposal downthread, but let me offer an observation….
          You and I came from a very different world than what is common today. Teachers were professionals, public unions were far less powerful than is common today, and many of the abuses of the system were considerably less refined then than today. Of course I might be a bit nostalgic for times long past, but the world that you are describing doesn’t exist anymore, if indeed it ever did. More to the point, what you describe as your experience (a small school system, for instance) is hardly relevant to the highly centralized, MUCH larger school systems that are the norm today. The biggest difference, however, is the pervasive influence of the non-local governments (particularly the Feds, but also the State) compared to what was more the norm in our youth.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, I agree with you that the culture of school (and much else in life) has changed quite a lot. The only thing that can help keep it from going farther south is strong good people. We just can’t afford to let all the adults become defensive cynics. See further reply to you below.

          • Andrew Allison

            Tenure provides job security to the incompetent and/or lazy. Like you and FG, I was lucky enough to be educated by teachers who taught for the results they achieved. I’d be interested in exploring ideas about whether the perverse, er pervasive, influence of state and local government can prevent a good teacher from exercising his/her vocation.

        • Andrew Allison

          Good teachers don’t need the protection of unions, bad ones do.

          • FriendlyGoat

            We’ll just disagree on that. There is an old saying that “no good deed goes unpunished”. I believe it is true in any bureaucracy. Wherever something stupid, petty, corrupt or unfair CAN destroy a good person, it will. Really good teachers are often seen by parents as “too hard”, by administrations as “too independent”, by other teachers as “working too hard”.

            It’s true that there are people in unions who skate by on poor work.
            It’s also true that the best absolutely NEED protection from both inside and outside attacks.

          • Andrew Allison

            The fact that public education has become a bureaucracy is precisely the problem. You’ve inadvertently confirmed this with “Really good teachers are often seen by parents as “too hard”, by administrations as “too independent”, by other teachers as “working too hard”.
            Let me give you an example of the result: several years ago there was an initiative petition in CA to institute school vouchers which the CTA spent millions of dollars to defeat. During the campaign it came out that 40% of the public school teachers with school-age children were sending them to private schools. Conclusion: any teacher who wanted an education for their children and could afford it was educating their children privately.

    • f1b0nacc1

      While I absolutely agree with your first paragraph (I couldn’t have said it better myself), how do you propose to square this with your love of collective bargaining and unions? After all, a ‘natural teacher’ must be paid and promoted behind a mediocre (or incompetent) one if the latter has more seniority or credentials according to virtually every union agreement in the land. I wholeheartedly endorse your paen to the value of the natural teacher, but seem to ignore the implications of that valedictory to the value (or lack thereof) of teacher’s unions.

      • FriendlyGoat

        I replied to Andrew, above, that I think I would prefer tenure to unionization. One reason why is that a person might not earn tenure for several years, giving the school plenty of time to KNOW that person very well. If most of the people are there after that long trial period and can’t be fired except in very egregious circumstances, they will function a lot like a union, but without the adversarial relationship that comes with a collective organization.

        • f1b0nacc1

          The ‘school’ doesn’t get to know someone, the administrators, the staff, etc. do. So just who gets to make these tenure decisions? I am not asking to be snarky, you have made a reasonable, nuanced suggestion, and I am honestly trying to treat It with the respect that it deserves, but what concerns me here (other than my dislike of tenure for other reasons) is that if you don’t want teachers to be abused by the various ‘management’ constructs, just how do you hand out the big reward of tenure? What will the criteria be?

          • FriendlyGoat

            The “criteria” for this is unfortunately, but necessarily, in my opinion, subjective. A lot of the success or failure of that is depended on the character and perception of the first-line administrators in having enough mature judgment to know what to look for in making tenure recommendations to a board. I don’t know whether schools put much stock in the opinions of other teachers, but they probably should—-even if soliciting anonymous input—-because the good teachers usually know who the bad apples are.

            Net, net, whether we are talking schools or anything else, I’m for treating good people WELL and for giving them some security. I don’t believe it is possible to have good educators who are running scared or deliberately enraged or belittled by communities, factions, political parties, or bad administrators. Without getting into identifying details, when I was in college I had a close friend who bought his way into a shared rental mobile home in a trailer park for the summer term. He and I were both shocked to learn that one of his roommates was a late-twenties guy who was doing summer work to finish an advanced degree to move from teaching to high-school administration. We were shocked because this guy had developed a habit of doing freshman girls for sport at the trailer. Obviously, good teachers were going to hit a wall if they found themselves working for this man as a principal. I was aware of another actual working elementary principal who went to prison for embezzling school funds to cover a gambling addiction. These kinds of no-character characters do exist in supervision in schools and everywhere else. Teachers need protection from the sorts of “judgments” such types of fellows might make. I don’t blame people for wanting union protection. I don’t blame people for wanting or needing tenure. The good ones should have either or both. So protecting good people is not an easy science, but I don’t believe we benefit ourselves by saying, well, the world is hard, lots of teachers are bad—-and, so, we’re going to make them all like temps for the rest of their lives. Colleges have gone that way with adjuncts and it’s a sorry state.

          • f1b0nacc1

            We don’t disagree about the criteria, but you seem to wave away the implications of that point. SOMEONE is going to have to make those decisions, and unless you have a great idea about how to choose wonderful people to make those decisions (good luck on that), you are back in the same mess that we are here. One reason why I am a conservative (more libertarian than conservative really, but lets not quibble) is that I don’t trust any large organization to make good decisions over time…hence the fewer choices they get to make and the less impact those choices have, the better. You identify some horrible admins, I have spent a lot of time in academe and could share some equally bone-chilling ones…..I don’t want to see any of those people having too much influence, and the only way to do that is to limit the scope of their power in the first place. This was the genius of the founders….read the Federalist Papers sometime for a terrific insight into what they were thinking and why.
            We don’t differ on what we are looking for, but I don’t see how tenure or unions are going to do anything but make that harder to get to. Unions are going to protect their membership, the bulk of which will be mediocre or worse. This isn’t because the unions are necessarily bad, but simply because the kind of exceptional people you are looking for are…well….EXCEPTIONAL, and hence won’t be a big percentage of any union. Hence their interests will be sacrificed in order to benefit the majority…. Tenure isn’t much better…some good teachers will get it, but many mediocre ones will too, and those are the ones that do the damage. This isn’t fun to see, but that doesn’t make it any less true. This isn’t ‘protecting’ teachers, it is shielding them from the natural consequences of their actions….and that never ends well.

          • FriendlyGoat

            We can agree that choosing good decision-makers is uphill business.
            One way schools can have a leg-up on that, in my opinion, is to always hire the superintendent from inside the local ranks if at all possible. I live near a community which rejected all out-of-town applicants with doctorates and hired a guy on a mere masters degree to lead a district of significant size. He had been with them 25 years in a variety of positions. He was known or known of by thousands of local citizens, students, former students now parents. They knew what they were getting.

            This summer, he retired. The district did the same trick again. Rejecting seven or eight others, they hired a woman with almost 30 years right in the community. She is not an “unknown quantity” for judgment qualities. If she was, the board could not have gotten away with choosing her—–if, again, “thousands” of people were not in favor.

          • f1b0nacc1

            While I am delighted that your community was able to avoid credentialism (one of the worst afflictions of our modern age) and instead hire based upon a desire to choose for ‘good fit’ (I know it was more complex than that, please accept my oversimplification as a rhetorical device), do you not think that it would be possible that some of the ‘losers’ in competition looking for this job might have cried ‘foul’ and claimed racism/sexism/etcism? I am NOT claiming that was the case here, but if I was told that a bright young prospect with wonderful credentials was turned down in favor of someone whose primary advantage was that she was well known to the board…I could make a case (however wrongly) for cronyism, etc. All it takes is one judge who doesn’t know (or doesn’t want to hear) the whole story, and your district could end up on the wrong side of a very big judgement. It has happened you know…
            As a side note, what if this happened in a small town in say, Alabama, and the losing candidate was black? How likely would it be that anyone would consider the community’s desires to hire someone they knew, and how many would assume it was racism? For that matter, wouldn’t that be an almost perfect ‘cover’ for a community that WANTED to discriminate?
            My point here is not to raise pointless hypotheticals, but rather to stress that however desirable the method you have described here, it would be very limited in how it could be applied, and likely wouldn’t be applicable at all in an urban area, or an area in flux. Selecting the superintendent in a large city is a highly political process, and almost by definition it is hard to imagine how it could be otherwise.
            This is (again) why I favor limiting the power of these large organizations, and devolving power as close to the community as possible. I do note that it will not be entirely without difficulties, but (as you point out here) the effects are often positive. These are highly libertarian, strongly conservative sentiments though….grin…

          • FriendlyGoat

            Just as a principal or superintendent would have to use the courage of good judgment in making subjective recommendations on who would get tenure, the School Board has to also be courageous and make ifs leadership hires with more consideration of what is good for the district than on who from out of town might try to sue them for being rejected. Always hiring the one who looks best on paper is a usually a race to the bottom. Always hiring the out-of-towner on the theory of “fresh set of eyes”, or “shake things up” is usually even worse.

            We all know this stuff is hard and fraught with pitfalls. Being a liberal, I am going to keep arguing for idealism. There are lots of reasons to descend to cynicism, but it’s no fun and in the end it kills the spirit of all the good people who can’t yet retire and run away from the game.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Well, we conservatives (especially libertarians!) are idealistic too you know….grin…
            You didn’t address my point though….how do you differentiate between choosing someone ‘courageously’, and simply using the process to disguise simple racism or sexism or any other ism? Obviously I am not suggesting that this was the case with your community, but you must concede that it wouldn’t be too hard to make an ugly set of accusations (however wrong) that it was if you were one of the ‘losers’ with an axe to grind. And when it comes to that, it certainly WOULD be possible for a community with bad intent to use exactly this approach if they were going to act with said intent.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You mentioned credentialism earlier as one of the worst afflictions of our modern age. I agree with you on that point. We tend to put over-emphasis on the traditional degrees attained, on the size of budgets overseen, on the number of people supervised, on the prestige of company names where someone as worked, maybe even on the number of people a candidate has fired or laid off.

            It is hard to quantify how many amicable resolutions of tough problems or conflicts a person has successfully managed, how many crises a person has simply avoided by managing a little thing out of becoming a big thing, how many good hires a person has made, how many mediocre employees a person has coached into actually improving, how many spirits a person has lifted by being a grateful boss, how much loyalty-down a person has practiced, how much office cred a person has earned with rank and file, how much a person really has an ear to the ground to improve himself/herself. These things don’t get on the resume exactly and a good hiring board can only sniff and hope really.

            Getting back to hiring from inside, I think that #1) Some of the positive intangibles may be more apparent in a person who is widely known, #2) Hiring the person with the most familiarity with a particular company or school district should serve somewhat as a defense against allegations of unfairness. Knowing a particular organization inside-out could reasonably trump a higher degree or a question about race. It is not against the law to discriminate in favor of a person who has inside knowledge, as far as I know.

            I’ll grin with you about idealism. We really don’t have to dwell on what our different conceptions of that might be. For far too many people, the workplace has become an environment long on negative considerations and short on joy of working and doing good to build each other up. I’m for more of the latter. I hope you are too.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Once again, I am NOT disagreeing with you about the value of a ‘non-credentialist’ approach to hiring, I think that it is far superior. I am all for getting rid of Duke v Griggs, for instance, as a way to enable that process. With that said, hiring from the inside does offer ‘opportunities’ to some of the more negative elements of society (i.e those who would use it to discriminate in a manner that BOTH of us would disapprove of) to take advantage of it. I am willing to live with this, as I think that the overall outcomes are worth the risk….are you?

          • FriendlyGoat

            What the Court said in Duke v Griggs is that “What Congress has commanded is that any tests used must measure the person for the job and not the person in the abstract.”

            Why do we need rid of that to hire a superintendent or other supervisor anywhere?

          • f1b0nacc1

            The point of Duke v Griggs is that the fine-sounding words ultimately make any sort of aptitude test a non-starter, as long as you can find a judge who believes the outcomes to be discriminatory. This in effect means that (especially in today’s legal environment) nothing other than a set of hard and fast credentials can be used for ‘sorting’ purposes when trying to ascertain candidate suitability. This is how we got started with our obsession with credentials, and it is what sustains it to this day. Duke v Griggs is hardly a good labor decision, rather it distorts the market quite badly, and in fact does huge damage to young people and minorities that are less likely to be able to accumulate the credentials necessary to compete. A bright and energetic candidate without credentials could have aced the aptitude exams in 1970 and gotten their foot in the door (I in fact know several people who did just that, including several minorities with essentially no useful credentials whatsoever), but now without a college degree (no matter how irrelevant), they would have almost no chance to do so.
            As for your Board and its hiring practices, they are most fortunate that they haven’t been sued, but if they aren’t afraid of it, they are being reckless at best. You would be most hard-pressed to find an HR department that would agree to such practices unless they can identify some clear-cut quantifiable metric to let them limit their selection pool. Large districts, urban districts, and almost any private firm larger than a few dozen total employees would be risking a very ugly judgement, no matter how pure their motives.
            Note that I am not suggesting that this state of affairs is a good one, or that your Board did anything wrong, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to find circumstances where a judge could be easily convinced that they had. When we hear about an employer turning down qualified candidates to hire someone on the inside, do you really want to suggest that our first assumption is “oh, they must have had better qualifications”? Even when this is true, It simply opens the door for abuses in the future.
            Once again, while I do not in any way intimate that your Board did anything at all wrong, this precise technique could be easily used to screen out ‘undesirable’ (i.e. minority, women, etc.) candidates no matter what their merits. If a school district in say, Alabama rejected a qualified black woman in favor of a white man whose primary virtue was that he was well known in the community and well-connected with the leadership do you want me to believe that you wouldn’t (quite reasonably) be sympathetic to a charge of racism or sexism against the district? We now have court rulings that support the notion that disparate impact is de-facto discrimination even when no evidence of intent can be provided….
            Mind you I am willing to accept the (relatively small number) of abuses associated with this sort of behavior because I place a high priority on liberty and choice, but you typically come down on the opposite side.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Being “well-known in the community and well-connected with the leadership” is not exactly the same thing as having performed well in a variety of positions within an organization where everyone from students to parents to staff to board got to see the performance first-hand over time and pronounce it good. I’m not suggesting a board should risk hiring someone who is merely friendly with certain board members. I’m suggesting that hiring a person with a STRONG inside record is not only a likely-good idea, but very possibly one of the best defenses in a lawsuit brought for not choosing one or more of the others.

            After all, if you have one or two insiders and six or seven outsiders, you can choose one of the outsiders but you have to defend that choice against claims by any of the other outsiders TOO. There, you may have to rely on mere credentials EVEN MORE because you don’t enjoy the advantage of being able to count inside knowledge as the deciding plus-factor—–AND—-you need a pretty good reason for rejecting strong insiders.

            Your last paragraph seems to be an invitation to more argument which was not my intent here. I merely wrote an original comment about my belief that GOOD teachers need some respect and solid protection and my secondary belief that (in some smaller systems anyway) that tenure is better for schools than unions are.

          • f1b0nacc1

            All of the criteria that you have used (and let me stress once again, I don’t dispute their intrinsic value as such) could also be used by a group of ‘bad’ folks wanting to just discriminate for whatever ‘bad’ reasons that they have in mind. Not that this invalidates the criteria, but it does illustrate how they can be misused. That is the sole point I am trying to make here….
            If my last paragraph came off as argumentative for its own sake, I apologize, for that was NOT my intention. I recognize you are trying to support your original comment (which I too support), but as we typically differ on some issues, I was trying to show that this might potentially be a fulcrum for that disagreement. If you do not, I am delighted…
            Finally, tenure (as it is used today, i.e. pretty much automatic after a short time) is possibly even worse for schools than unions, for at least with unions there is some viable method of getting rid of bad actors. With tenure, it is (remotely) possible to do so, but ultimately so difficult that it might as well not be…

          • FriendlyGoat

            Cool. Peace.

            You are correct that nearly every well-intended form of protection, or anti-discrimination, or hiring practice is fraught with loopholes for abuse, for protecting the wrong people, for being accused of wrong-doing, and for actually making mediocre hires. It’s just life and the litigious, cat-and-mouse world we live in. People with responsibility for staffing just have to soldier on and do the best they can anyway, knowing there are mines to trip over and pits to fall in.

            As to the second point, you may be of the opinion that there should be neither tenure nor unions. I’m not. But I do realize there is some truth that the famous “adversarial relationship between management and labor” can be like a lead weight to an organization. So, I’m not that fond of unions for schools. That leaves some form of tenure as the alternative—-to my way of thinking, anyway.

    • Tate Metlen

      I thought this was going to be one of those rare moments when I agree with you…. until the last sentence. Tenure is for those who aren’t good teachers. Good teachers will always be in demand, especially if the public school system transitions to a more competitive model.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Being in demand enough to go get yourself hired somewhere else is a good place for a teacher to be in. But not everyone wants to have to change towns in order to manage a problem principal or parent(s). I totally disagree that tenure is only for the bad or weak teachers. I think it more probably empowers the good teacher to proceed with courage and be strong where strength is needed. The goal is to not tenure the poor teachers in the first place.

        • Boritz

          “The goal is to not tenure the poor teachers in the first place.”

          And we know who those are.
          The problem with tenure (or irony as you nuanced types might prefer) is that tenure is unnecessary to protect those who espouse positions that are popular, mainstream, and adored by the education establishment. No teach tenured or untenured would face job uncertainty for championing:

          — man made global warming
          — same sex marriage
          — the teaching of evolution

          Those teachers who would oppose these positions in whole or in part are the ones who would actually have a real need for tenure but would be unlikely to receive it.
          The tenure process, for those who successfully navigated it, would end up resembling the process of acquiring approval for a loan by demonstrating to a loan officer that you have no actual need for the loan and could function perfectly well without it.

          • FriendlyGoat

            What a person believes about global warming, same-sex marriage or evolution does not have any bearing on whether he or she is talented at teaching elementary students to read or teaching middle schoolers math. They might have a bearing if the teacher was working his/her opinions on those matters into the classroom as some sort of mission. People who want to teach a church world view should teach in church schools. Many do.

      • Andrew Allison

        Unhappily, good teachers are not always in demand. As FG suggests elsewhere, in the current environment they are more likely to be attacked by parents, administrators and their incompetent colleagues.

    • lfox

      It MIGHT work with the elementary students, but in high school, you need to have trained teachers in math and science.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Agreed. One can’t be a good HS math or science teacher without being capable of going much further than the book in response to questions from inquisitive minds. But those fields at the HS level are only part of school.

  • GS

    Cast not your pearls before swine. This applies to education at all levels [and should be made THE motto of every educational institution], and necessarily includes the teachers’ development.

    • Andrew Allison

      In the context of this post, I couldn’t disagree more. First, we’re discussing teachers not students, and second the extent to which the “swine” are created by care-less teaching is far from clear.

      • GS

        Any student, and this includes a teacher being trained [a trainee is a student by definition] can well prove inadequate, and therefore a swine on whom the pearls of instruction are utterly wasted. What we need is to return to the streamed education model.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Perhaps you have another source for the swine/pearls sentence other than Matthew 7:6 in the Bible. Here, from the Contemporary English Version (copied from where there are 30+ translations) is a section of Matthew which contains your quotation:

      “Judging Others

      7 Don’t condemn others, and God won’t condemn you. 2 God will be as hard on you as you are on others! He will treat you exactly as you treat them.

      3 You can see the speck in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the log in your own eye. 4 How can you say, “My friend, let me take the speck out of your eye,” when you don’t see the log in your own eye? 5 You’re nothing but show-offs! First, take the log out of your own eye. Then you can see how to take the speck out of your friend’s eye.

      6 Don’t give to dogs what belongs to God. They will only turn and attack you. Don’t throw pearls down in front of pigs. They will trample all over them.

      Ask, Search, Knock

      7 Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And the door will be opened for everyone who knocks. 9 Would any of you give your hungry child a stone, if the child asked for some bread?10 Would you give your child a snake if the child asked for a fish? 11 As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give good things to people who ask.

      12 Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets[a] are all about.”

      I have never believed that trying to teach people concepts above our perception of their IQ or academic potential is casting pearls before swine—-at least certainly not in the Biblical context. Why do you?

      • GS

        Matt.7:6 suffices. Cast not your pearls before swine. In my idukashinal activities I have always followed this guidance both in spirit and in letter, tutoring only those bright enough.
        1. “Amanda wants to paint each face of a cube a diggerent color. How many colors would she need? “[a multiple choice idiocy, NAEP 8th grade. 50% got it wrong, although out of these 50% about 15% got it right by a lucky guessing].
        And here is what I like to use, also on the 8th graders, as it was originally designed for them, in a different place and at a different time, ca. 50 years ago:
        2. “Given a common cubic playing dice, with one to six points per cube face, how many different arrangements of these points [i.e. different dices] are possible? The dices are considered as different if they could not be superimposed by a simple rotation of the whole cube.”
        I was tutoring only those who could do the problem #2. And there would be no multiple choice for them, either. A clean sheet of paper, a pen, and a student’s head.

        • FriendlyGoat

          Matthew 7:6 “suffices” because presumably you did not get this phrase from anywhere else. Below is the same thing from the King James Version. It does not support your out-of context misappropriation of an idea any better than a contemporary translation. (By the way, I assume you remember that you and I have been through all this before here in the comment section. I have already heard your story above about how we should ignore the lesser lights. You can embrace it all you want and the rest of us are not going to.)

          7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

          2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

          3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

          4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

          5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

          6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

          7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

          8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

          9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

          10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

          11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

          12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets

          • GS

            I was using it in the precisely right context. Cast not, and waste not. The pearls are not for the swine. And the lesser lights you can keep for yourself, and even hang them from your Christmas tree, if you so wish. I do not want to have anything to do with them. Working with the greater lights is so much more fun. When a student understands you not even in the mid-sentence but in a mid-thought, it keeps you on your toes all the time, and is both challenging and highly rewarding. Regrettably, there are not many such tutorees.

          • FriendlyGoat

            There is nothing wrong with you having high-end math talents and enjoying your work with strong young minds. What I find objectionable is your insistence that no effort be “wasted” on kids below that top cohort. This is probably the third or fourth time you and I have been through this topic here.

            We need to do the best we can to raise the capability of every person in our country. We know some are harder than others to teach. We know there will be some failures on their part and on our part. We don’t just tell them to go away and not bother us. It does not work. They do not “go” anywhere. They live among us for decades. They are part of our lives and we are part of theirs.

            We do everything possible to lend a hand up and we do not delight in making fun of them. If/when we get to Heaven, we undoubtedly will find it populated with the likes of Forrest Gump, who said, “I am not a smart man, but I know what love is.” (If we don’t suspect that about Heaven, we might as well throw away the New Testament, because the whole gist of it has flown over the tops of our heads.)

            As for the Biblical citation, I cannot use the above excerpts from Matthew—–taken as a whole—-to construe that the pearls mentioned are academic aptitude or accomplishment. I believe the verse refers to being careful with one’s spiritual heart and one’s faith—not volunteering to have unbelievers trash it and stomp your hope and your spirit into the dust.

          • GS

            To each one’s own. Busy yourself with the lesser lights, if such is your pleasure. I will not, and do not, for I disapprove of the practice. Indeed, I insist on the instructor’s right to deny instruction. And by the way, I am not even a mathematician – by profession I am a chemist. But long ago I have learned that nothing is better for training the mind than math and physics, and therefore I can, and do, use these.

          • FriendlyGoat

            We’re making progress. You belong with those you believe worthy of your instruction. The entirety of social policy is another subject which will be addressed by other people. The entirety of Christianity is also another subject that is thankfully interpreted more correctly by other people.

          • GS

            You should have seen it, it was such a beauty to behold: I found and then translated into English [fortunately, I translate from several languages, so it was no big deal] several large collections of the dice-level [and higher] problems [some with solutions, others without], for free use by the homeschooling parents and/or Tiger and Jewish moms on their supposedly promising progeny. The fun was watching their reaction. Their initial enthusiasm was visibly fading into the rather long faces, when the realization that neither their progeny, nor even frequently they themselves were up to the snuff, set in. But all that was for the better, for everyone has his/her limit, and one should know one’s limit, gnothi seauton. And usually I am using the problems from those collections. There are quite a few pearls for the segment IQ>140, if one knows where to look for them.
            And the whole thing is exactly about the educational/social policy, with an unimaginable waste of pearls going in it. It is about nothing else.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Your philosophy works in your sphere. If you had been articulating it on last night’s GOP debate stage, you would be the toast of the news media today. They seriously would not be able to stop replaying the outrage of the evening.

          • GS

            Why do you think that I care about the news media? I do not.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Naturally. That’s why OTHER people run for office using ideas which actually have to attract SOME measure of popular appeal.

          • GS

            While the leftards see the GOP debate as an “outrage”, the others do not. They even see the baboomery as outrage – to each one’s own.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I was speaking of your narrow views on public education being the “outrage” if they were spoken on the debate stage. The GOP candidates are bad enough, but none, none, none of them come even close to saying what YOU advocate.

          • GS

            And so what? Do you have a trouble with reading comprehension? With that I cannot help. I already told you that I am thinking for myself and I that cannot care less about what the others might be thinking or saying. Growing up in the effing leftist paradise of soviet union had taught me a few good lessons, and this is one of them – spiritual sovereignty. For you, “the GOP candidates are bad enough”, while for me any one of them is better than the expletive we have now. If you want to have an education system producing a good, well-trained workforce, then that’s how to do it – stream, stream, and stream more. And the same applies to the training of teachers.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You would prefer the election of any of the GOP candidates, but you know as well as I do that none of them can win a general election—-probably not even their own primary—–speaking the gist of the all you’ve said in this thread. I wish you would coach them all, because what you’re saying cannot ever be sold to a general audience. If, by fluke of fate, one of the candidates actually does agree with you on not wasting the pearls of knowledge on the swine of (any) children, he or she would have to be VERY careful to conceal that sentiment, because it is so far out of moral whack that not even Republicans will vote for it.

          • GS

            You have cognitive problems, “FriendlyGoat”, see a neurologist’s help about your short-term memory and general perception. Have not I already said that I coach only those [who a) are willing and b)] whom I agree to coach/tutor? Cast not your pearls before swine.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Nice try. Below your claimed capability.

          • GS

            ??? – you expressed a wish for me to coach the candidates, as if I would accept them based on your wish [a recommendation/advice from a lefty is to be taken with a “minus” sign]. I would not even accept them were it on their wish, not on yours. I have other things to do.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Okay. You won’t transmit your own beliefs to the candidates you support. I’ll take it on faith that your reluctance to do so is the reason they won’t be following your (absent) advice—-and not that the belief itself is political fruitcake-ism. Whatever.

          • GS

            And where did you get, “I support”? I prefer them to the POS we have, true, but as for my “support” – my support is something else. And speaking of the fruitcakery, I happen to see your “ethical” framework as a fruitcake, pure and simple. Naturally, I reject it root and branch.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Okay with me. You reject a lot of things.

  • EdReal

    How is it you think smaller schools won’t be costly? Of course they’ll cost more. Charters won’t scale for precisely that reason. Those education bureaucrats? Each school has to have a few. Teachers don’t divvy up neatly by kids; certain classes have to be offered no matter what.

    Teachers can teach how they want already. Except in charter schools, where teachers are kept on a strict leash.

    You’re going to have to give teachers raises one way or another. The master’s programs are just a way for teachers to get raises–they pay to get them, by the way. Look into teacher pay closely and it becomes obvious that merit pay doesn’t work at all–and teachers don’t want it. All the other plans–by specialty, or by content knowledge level (HS vs ES) open up huge cans of worms. So we keep it with MA degrees, simply because it gives them another rway to make money. BTW–in most states, teachers get money just for going to school, whether or not they get a master’s. So doing away with MAs wouldn’t stop teachers from getting education credits for more money. Cites:

    You should really read up before opining on education. On top of everything else, you’re ludicrously uninformed about the cost of education. Master program aren’t anywhere on the horizon. Try special ed.

    Oh, and teachers hate PD. They could have told you it didn’t “work”. But then, when you start from the premise that our schools could have dramatically higher test scores if only teachers were doing a better job, you’re going to try a whole bunch of foolish ideas to “fix” something that isn’t broken–at least not in the way you think it is.

  • mdmusterstone

    Friendly goat you are exactly right about the kinds of
    people we want teaching school but let’s bring our tippy toes (cloven hooves in
    your case of course) back down to earth.
    How in all the world are we going to identify such people, that’s the
    problem not what kinds of people will be good in the classroom. There’s no problem knowing what would make
    the best doctor, pilot, salesman, policeman, fighter pilot, etc. The problem is finding them!

    A friend who was a principal told me, no matter his best
    efforts, that it was a constant surprise
    who turned out to be a great teacher as opposed to those who turned out to be
    very much less so. But let’s say that by
    some miraculous intervention we did have a criteria, a litmus test of some kind
    that would identify this ideal instructor you talk about, what could be said to
    the charge, “You didn’t hire me because your test is racially biased!”?

    EdReal. Another friend
    teaches advanced education classes, his students manage classes at all levels:
    what he is being told is that everything is lock-step from morning bell to let-out
    time in the afternoon. My doctor’s daughter just started teaching here in Arizona. He said that she told him that if her lesson
    plan says “spelling” at 1:30 that’s exactly what she better be
    teaching if the principal walks in no matter how involving or exciting a
    discussion on another matter may have been, it is cut short and they take out
    their spelling books.

    Parent choices? They
    have always had choices. But have any of
    you ever heard of a parent finding out which teachers in HS are the most
    demanding and making sure their little dar’ln is enrolled in those

    But cutting to the chase the problem is politics, all the
    usual suspects. An article in Scientific
    American some years ago did a study on Vietnamese boat people that came to this
    country without English, money or education, five years later their children,
    in the same dirty rotten no-good schools, tested at 92% in math (58% in
    English). Same for another article in
    City Journal some months ago for new Chinese immigrants on the East Coast;
    within one generation their children were enrolling in college.

    • FriendlyGoat

      None of this is easy, but I speak in idealism because I think we need to keep trying. A couple of things:

      1) Your last paragraph above implies that a great deal of the “problem” in American schools is American students’ attitude and upbringing. I won’t argue that point. Some people said my 1960’s were the wild time—–but life is now much wilder.

      2) Tony Danza, the actor from TAXI and WHO’S THE BOSS on TV spent a fairly recent year teaching English in a tough Philadelphia school as part of TV pilot project about schools that was cancelled in 8 weeks. He wrote a book entitled, “I’d Like to Apologize Now To Every Teacher I Ever Had”. I got it at the library a couple of years ago and found it fascinating and engaging to read. He explained in great detail how hard it really is to teach in public schools. But we can’t quit.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I have said this many times because it just doesn’t seem to penetrate. It is the “Feedback of Competition” which provides both the information and motivation which forces continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price, in free markets. The Government Monopoly like all Monopolies including the Public School System Monopoly all suffer from the same disease, the lack of the “Feedback of Competition”. The Public School System Monopoly can’t be improved without removing the Monopoly. So obviously just throwing more money at it isn’t going to work, as the problem isn’t under funding or under training or some other deficiency money can solve. With out the information and the motivation the “Feedback of Competition” provides, American education doesn’t know how and doesn’t want to get any better.
    Vouchers are being pushed by Right wing politics as a way of injecting some competition for students into the Monopoly, but the resistance by the Leftist Blue Model to even this tiny injection of competition is extreme. Too really advance and improve as fast as possible, all schools would have to be private businesses competing for the consumer’s (students and their parents) business. In addition the Labor Gang Monopolies (Teacher’s Unions) would have to be broken with the anti-trust laws, so that teachers could be hired, fired, and paid based on merit, rather than the job for life (even sexual predators and addicts can’t be fired) and pay based on seniority it is today.

  • johngbarker

    It is politically convenient to blame teachers unions for the low performance of some students because this masks the even greater problem of the difference in prior knowledge, vocabulary, intellectual skills, and values between those children reared in homes of ambitious, educated parents and those reared in homes where parents lack those traits. Get rid of unions and some problems will be solved, but the main one will remain. The variance of educational outcomes due to teacher influence is much less than non-school factors. It may be possible to make up this difference with some educational program that may involve extensive early education, pre-natal care, and other important factors but getting rid of unions and finding the magic teacher may not give the results desired.

  • lfox

    I got involved in a mentoring program, that links experienced teacher with the noobs for 1-2 years. I’d done informal mentoring for years, but this was the first opportunity I’d had to formalize the relationship.

    Overall, it was greatly helpful in getting the new teachers up to speed quickly, and giving them a person to go to if things were difficult. Our program in SC is based on the similar concept of new doctors working as interns under the guidance of a resident.

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