Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Heresy in Big Orange Country

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Should sports be linked with schools?

Not all Endorsements are Helpful

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

I suspect this may be one endorsement Mike Huckabee doesn’t want:

The 16,000-member New Hampshire affiliate of the National Education Association has chosen to recommend to its members Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and Mike Huckabee in the Republican primary, according to a source within the state NEA.

This is the first time the state affiliate has picked a candidate in the GOP primary, and it follows Huckabee’s showing as the only Republican who spoke to the NEA convention in July.

It is very, very unusual for the NEA to endorse a Republican. Indeed, due to their opposition to teacher accountability and school choice, they have been outright hostile to Republicans, and vice versa. Huckabee’s conservative critics will certainly use this to bolster their charge that he is actually a closet liberal.

They Learnt Me Good!

Monday, May 21st, 2007

Education in Tennessee: not so good:

The state Board of Regents says, statewide, nearly half of all college students and 70 percent of community college students require remedial work that costs the state $25 million dollars annually.

Bredesen says students who score poorly on the ACT college entrance exams should consider going to community colleges, rather than four-year schools that are more expensive for the state and where marginal students are much more likely to fail.

A study by the ACT concluded just 17 percent of Tennessee students meet the benchmarks for being ready for college classes.

This is hardly a problem unique to Tennessee, of course. All across America, high schools are churning out students that are hardly prepared for college. And while academic standards continue to decline, more and more students are enrolling in college than ever before. The recipe for disaster is obvious.

The key to improving our colleges, as I’ve always said, is to improve high schools. Thomas Nenson of the University of Memphis blames socioeconomic factors, a common culprit according to academics. I don’t doubt that there is some truth to this, but when an outright majority of graduates are not prepared for college, it is clear that socioeconomic factors are overemphasized as a cause of the problem.

The main causes are two things: poor education and the idea that everyone should go to college. The former is difficult to fix, as it goes back to parenting more than anything else. Effective parents will make sure that their children receive a quality education. Programs like vouchers that allow for more choices in education would clearly aid parents in doing this.

The second cause is more painful. The simple fact is that not everyone belongs in college. Now, it’s hard to tell a high school student they aren’t college material. But we all know that some are not. It makes little sense to spend public funds on students that have little to no chance of receiving a college degree. That might sound heartless, but deep down, everyone knows this. Some just try to deny it.

UPDATE: This post is taking part in the Beltway Traffic Jam.

Gates Gets It

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Bill Gates speaks out on the “technology gap” that will appear if the U.S. doesn’t improve math and science education and doesn’t encourage highly-skilled workers to immigrate to America:

“It makes no sense to tell well-trained, highly skilled individuals, many of whom are educated at our top colleges and universities, that the United States does not welcome or value them,” Gates said. “America will find it infinitely more difficult to maintain its technological leadership if it shuts out the very people who are most able to help us compete.”

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Gates also called on lawmakers to give more resources and attention to improving the teaching of math and science — knowledge essential to many of today’s jobs. Another recent federal study found 40 percent of high school seniors failed to perform at the basic level on a national math test. On a national science test, half of 12th-graders didn’t show basic skills.

Education Starts Early

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

With all the talk about problems in higher education, it’s good to see that someone gets it:

Boosting Tennessee’s college graduation rate depends on significantly improving the curriculum in the state’s public high schools, a higher education official told lawmakers Tuesday.

Richard Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, told the Senate Finance Committee that higher standards in high school would also lead to more students keeping their lottery scholarships after their freshman year in college.

Absolutely. Colleges take a lot of criticism, some of it deserved, some of it not. However, it is obvious that the public schools are not preparing students for college. Talk to any professor and he or she will tell you how amazed they are with the poor quality of students they are receiving. This is the result of many factors, to be sure: poor parenting, a passive culture, and the general belief that everyone deserves a college education. But public schools are clearly not preparing students for college. If we want to improve our colleges and universities, we better start with our public schools. And, if it leads to fewer high school graduates and fewer students enrolling in college, maybe we should take the hint.

UPDATE: This post is taking part in the Beltway Traffic Jam.

Fixing Our Schools

Monday, January 8th, 2007

Rob Huddleston has some thoughts on Gov. Bredesen’s plan to grant college scholarships to any Tennessee student that scores a 19 or better on the ACT. Huddleston ain’t impressed.

But neither am I. Oh, I’m sure this plan polls well – who doesn’t want students to go to college? But anyone who knows much about education knows that schools across the nation are in serious decline. Fixing this problem should be the primary concern – but this won’t be easy. Under Bredesen’s plan, not much gets done – but it looks like it does.

So what is the answer to failing schools? We can blame teachers, administrators, politicians, whoever, and they all do share some blame. But ultimately, it goes back to parents. Many parents simply aren’t that interested in how their children do. Or junior brings home a grade card with A’s and B’s and mom and dad are thrilled. He made the honor roll; he must be learning!

Sadly, this isn’t always the case. An A may only be worth what a C was a few decades ago. Parents don’t realize this because they aren’t that interested. Don’t misunderstand; many parents are very concerned. But when I was in school, there were many people who were otherwise great parents but who simply did not see the value in education. And if they don’t, how can we expect our children to?

This is the heart of the problem for education in Tennessee and across America. Sadly, there isn’t much the government can do to force parents to ensure their kids get educated. But we’re all likely to pay the consequences of an uneducated populace, with the rise of India and China.