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Tilting at Windmills

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September 14, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

GET TO WORK!....Wow. 172 "learning goals" for kindergarten? Does one of them include learning to count to 172?

Kevin Drum 12:56 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (71)

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My kindergartener got homework!

Posted by: craigie on September 14, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

I see one of the goals is science. So no Republicans are going to make it to the first grade.

Posted by: craigie on September 14, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, can any wingnuts do any of these:

SCIENCE
Understand the purpose of recycling
Describe the effects of forces in nature

SOCIAL SCIENCE
Participate in voting as a way of making choices
Understand that each of us belongs to a family and recognize that families vary

SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Demonstrate control of impulsive behavior
Describe positive qualities of others

I didn't think so.

Posted by: craigie on September 14, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

One of the bigger problems facing American education is the belief that more equals better.

So ya want to be known as an advocate for education? Simple, just add more hoops for students and teachers to have to jump through.

And damn the consequences.

Posted by: Keith G on September 14, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Voting?

Posted by: Jim E. on September 14, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Funny they use that number. My nephew in preschool frequently counts that high. It only takes him about 8 numbers to get there and sometimes he get there twice in one sequence.

Posted by: B on September 14, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

These are still the goals in many high schools.

Posted by: Ace Franze on September 14, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'm tangentially involved in early childhood education in California. The California standards for kindergarten are extensive but reasonble.

http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/

For example, the physical science standards say,
Properties of materials can be observed, measured, and predicted. As a basis for understanding this concept:

--Students know objects can be described in terms of the materials they are made of (e.g., clay, cloth, paper) and their physical properties (e.g., color, size, shape, weight, texture, flexibility, attraction to magnets, floating, sinking).

--Students know water can be a liquid or a solid and can be made to change back and forth from one form to the other.

--Students know water left in an open container evaporates (goes into the air) but water in a closed container does not.

This does not seem too much for a 5 or 6 year old to be able to learn by the end of kindergarten.

The reason for such detailed standards is the general requirement for school accountability. We demand that schools teach to certain test requirements, so we have to have some standardization of what we expect kids to know at each level. The problem is kids vary.

At least in California, the standards are written by experts in early childhood education rather than politicians on the education committees, so it could be worse. Last year a bill was introduced to require a pledge of allegiance and instruction about national symbols in state-funded preschools. The department of education squashed it as age-inappropriate.

It is true that much more is expected of kindergarteners than there used to be, for example reading. The standard remark here is kindergarten is the new first grade. Some kids are ready for it, and some are not.

Posted by: anandine on September 14, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, you don't need to know any of that shit.

Posted by: Robert Fulgham on September 14, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Don't get me started...as a former early childhood educator (both in public school and preschool) this makes me LAUGH OUT LOUD!!! The stated goals are not a problem (except for the expectation, if it is so, that ALL kindergartners will READ at the end of that experience)...we did present graphing, voting, family awareness, recycling, "forces of nature" (love that one) and the others using methods appropriate for the development of children at that stage of their learning...so relax...representing "data" in graphic form can be as simple as using pieces of paper matched to the number of, let's say, children in the room wearing white sneakers, those with black sneakers, sneakers that light up, etc. You might begin that exercise by putting one of each child's sneakers on a large floor graph to visualize the process...FUN, actually and the beginnings of the concept...I'm betting you could think of lots more ways to meet this goal. The trick is to keep your expectations relevant to each child's particular stage of development...and BELIEVE ME it's a mixed bag in kindergarten and should be. That is, of course, until it becomes more important to make ALL children in kindergarten into cookie cutter little learners...you know, keep them home until they FIT THE PROGRAM you have...rather than, GOD FORBID, make a program that fits the learners who show up...after all these years that is still a lesson many in public education have NOT LEARNED!!! Perhaps that's why I need to be ending all my comments with:

ARE YOUR EYES OPEN YET???!!!!!

Posted by: Dancer on September 14, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Interestingly, my kindergardener likes to count to 100 as part of his bedtime ritual. He'd like to go higher (he's stalling) but he has to go to sleep. So far, when I let him start at 100, he gets tripped up at "one hundred ten one, one hundred ten two" instead of "one hundred eleven". I'm sure by June 2d he'll reach 172.

My preschooler can recite the Pledge of Allegiance, which reminded me that "liberty and justice for all" is directly contradicted by this administration's stated goals of secret prisons and secret evidence at trials. Of course, I didn't tell her that.

Posted by: American Citizen on September 14, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

This is from my (Iowa) school district student expectations guide:

Solves problems, reasons, and communicates.

K.P.1 Draws pictures and/or uses manipulatives to represent the problem.
K.P.2 Explains how they solved the problem.
Demonstrates an understanding of numbers and operations.

K.N.1 Uses one-to-one correspondence to count objects and determine how many in sets to twenty.
K.N.2 Represents numbers zero through twenty with objects and numerals.
K.N.3 Compares numbers from zero through twenty using terms such as "less than", "more than", "equal to."
K.N.4 Divides an object or set of objects into two equal parts.
K.N.5 Adds and subtracts numbers zero through ten using manipulatives.
K.N.6 Counts backward from ten.
Demonstrates an understanding of patterns, relationships, and algebra.

K.A.1 Extends and continues simple patterns.
K.A.2 Sorts and classifies objects using two or more attributes.
Demonstrates an understanding of geometry and measurement.

K.G.1 Names: circle, triangle, rectangle (including square), oval, and diamond.
K.G.2 Describes spatial relationships (top, bottom, inside, outside, above, between, behind, under, etc.).
K.G.3 Identifies longer, shorter, taller, heavier, and lighter.
K.G.4 Measures length using nonstandard units.
Demonstrates an understanding of data analysis, probability, and discrete mathematics.

K.D.1 Collects and describes data to answer a question.
K.D.2 Represents data using concrete objects or pictures.

Posted by: Jay on September 14, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, can any wingnuts do any of these:

I'd be happy if they could just learn to count to 10 before invading a country.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 14, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

You want to know why kids are getting heavier? Maybe it's because they're so burdened with homework that they can't make time to play outside. My kids, who are admitedly in advanced classes have on average 3 hours of homework a night. Since my youngest doesn't get off the bus until after 5, and you include time for little things like dinner and showers, by the time she's done with her homework it's time for bed.

Posted by: Evan on September 14, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

SCIENCE
Understand the purpose of recycling

I'm a fan of recylcling, but please don't start social engineering our children at the kindergarten level. That, of course, is the only reason she selectively listed those points on her blog. There's the liberal credo, start programming them like little robots at the age of 2. The earlier the better.


Also, Craigie wrote:
I see one of the goals is science. So no Republicans are going to make it to the first grade.

I'm an electrical engineer, so science is second nature to me. What gave you the idea that liberals have a corner on science? Liberal arts, maybe, but science, no.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 14, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

I have a kindergartener this year, for the second year in a row (because older son is now in 1st grade). Kindergarten in California is tough - on the parents. Teacher sends home packets of homework that involve three worksheets per day, plus games and cut-and-paste project, plus reading assignment, plus fill in the circles to show that you did the reading, etc. It takes a graduate degree to figure it all out.

But the teacher is kind and promised to send home less work. I just don't believe that kindergarteners need to do so much damned homework. There isn't any research that backs up the effectiveness of homework at this age in teaching kids to read, write, etc.

If I could afford to keep them at the fancy private lab school at college where I'm doing my masters' degree, they would not have homework. They'd be doing play-based and hands-on investigations and they'd be learning all kinds of great stuff.

Homework is for the masses. Elite private schools with educational philosophies based on the best research models don't assign homework.

Luckily for my kids, they are in a new magnet school mostly devoted to special ed, so they're in classrooms with teachers trained to adapt their teaching to learning differences. One of my kids is special ed, one isn't; they're both eager to learn. The classrooms they attend are "integrated", with regular kids learning alongside special ed kids. It's more work and more chaotic sometimes but they are learning a great deal.

And because it's a new, dynamic school (in an old school that was closed down for underperformance) there are great extras - dance, art, P.E., music. Yes. My kids get dance and music instruction at public school.

They'll be ok...

Posted by: Leila A. on September 14, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

What gave you the idea that liberals have a corner on science?

Uh, gee, let me think...

Posted by: craigie on September 14, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

If I could afford to keep them at the fancy private lab school at college where I'm doing my masters' degree, they would not have homework. They'd be doing play-based and hands-on investigations and they'd be learning all kinds of great stuff.

My brother-in-law is a teacher, and he confirms this. The public schools are in thrall to a "more better less worse cookie cutter" mentality that is not helpful.

Luckily, my kids are geniuses, so it doesn't matter...

Posted by: craigie on September 14, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

What gave you the idea that liberals have a corner on science?

nothing, really, absolutely nothing

Posted by: craigie on September 14, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Don't fall for the snarky, Kevin. The actual report (which is not linked by joannejacobs.com nor by the Chicago-Sun Times, which she quotes) contains 32 goals, each of which can be evidenced by a number of benchmarks. Someone at the CSTimes apparently thought it would be cute to count the number of benchmarks: there are 172.

The report (at http://www.isbe.state.il.us/%5C/earlychi/pdf/iel_standards.pdf) states clearly: "Goals are the most general statements about learning" and "Benchmarks provide teachers an objective means of evaluating a student's progress".

So the CSTime's statement: "The 172 new 'benchmarks,' or skills, cover language arts, math, science, social science, physical development and health, fine arts, foreign language and social/emotional development." is a little misleading since benchmarks aren't "skills" so much as they are ways to see if students are acheiving a goal.

That joannejacobs.com paraphrases that quote as "Illinois has spelled out what kids need to learn in kindergarten. The 172 learning goals include:" is likely a result of that misleading statement. And that bad paraphrase of that misleading statement leads to your snarky "sheesh" post. Ugly, ugly stuff compared to the work hours, thought, and attention gone into this report.

I'm sure joannejacobs.com doesn't recall graphing in kindergarten. But if her teacher has asked her to "Make a graph on growth of seeds planted before vacation that are now small plants." (report page 23) her success would be indicative of her ability towards "State Goal 8: Use algebraic and analytical methods to identify and describe patterns and relationships in data, solve problems, and predict results."

This really isn't rocket science. Kids need to be taught the kinds of symbols our society uses to represent things. That report is a fascinating read: lots of interesting examples.

And sportsfan79, don't worry about these activities making kids into "little robots" (I'm assuming that's your description of teaching them things that liberals like). "Understand the purpose of recycling" is a benchmark: if you can understand that, then you probably have made progress on "State Goal 12: Understand the fundamental concepts, principles and interconnections of the life, physical and earth/space sciences." Certainly a pro-science engineer such as yourself can't disapprove of that statement.

Posted by: brent on September 14, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

The best comment over there:

SCIENCE
Understand the purpose of recycling

"This seems more like social engineering than science."

Looks like someone still needs to attend kindergarten in Illinois!

Honestly, its just amazing how polarized this country is when the value of recycling is a partisan issue.

Posted by: Mysticdog on September 14, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

This is less than one goal per day. Isn't that reasonable?

Posted by: Nancy on September 14, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Cragie:

I was going to cite those very same examples that you did as reasons why public education has become nothing more than liberal indoctrination camps. I didn't check out the remaining 162 goals, but I wouldn't be surprised if they include Mr. Garrison's teaching his kindergarten class the proper way of placing a condum onto a erect penis, as well as, reviewing of sexual positions.

BTW, anyone know what a "filty sanchez" or a "hot carl" is exactly? lol

Posted by: Chicounsel on September 14, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

I was going to cite those very same examples that you did as reasons why public education has become nothing more than liberal indoctrination camps.

I refer you to

Honestly, its just amazing how polarized this country is when the value of recycling is a partisan issue.

Posted by: craigie on September 14, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not get all bent out of shape about these 172 goals. These are goals as expressed by public schools, therefore, it's pretty safe to say that they don't involve taking on additional work or aspiring to greater achievements. Most likely, it's just another attempt by our nation's educators to make themselves look good by compiling a list of skills/knowledge the kids were already developing at some rudimentary level so they can take credit for it.

Don't get me wrong, there are certainly some outstanding and even inspiring teachers in the public schools, but for every teacher who instills a love of learning and original thought in a child, there are at least three lined up to smother it. (My apologies to those truly dedicated teachers swimming against the tide). As in any other bureaucracy, excellence is usually swallowed up by a sea of mediocrity and apathy. Our public education system in which the semi-literate instruct the illiterate are no different. Schools are little more than employment agencies for teachers; the children an annoying, but necessary distraction. In the end, like so many other things, it's all about money; money for school administrators and money for teachers.

I hate to be such a cynic, but that's been my experience as a student of the public schools and as a parent.

Posted by: Chesire11 on September 14, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing wrong with having standards like these. The problems stems from having social promotion of kids from preschool who aren't yet ready to handle the challenges of kindergarten. The sooner we start holding those kids back from starting kindergarten, the better.

Posted by: standards man on September 14, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

The reason schools give homework in such quantity, starting in kindergarten, is because it's far easier for the teachers to farm out the work of teaching to the parents than to do it at school. The beauty of it is that if a kid fails, the teachers/school has covered their asses. They can point to the homework assignments as evidence of academic rigor and at the poor results as evidence that the child is an uneducable rube. Consider how many times teachers complain that their jobs are made almost impossible because of the children; there are too many of them in the classroom, they're undisciplined, all of the best ones are in private or parochial schools, etc as though they should only be required to teach the when it's easy!


and btw, I don't believe this the result of liberalism in our schools, it's a matter of what's easier, respecting children as individuals and working hard to facilitate their natural curiosity and education or adopting production line methods and making excuses for poor performance. Believe me, conservatives can be every bit as lazy, ignorant and incompetent as the worst liberal.

Posted by: Chesire11 on September 14, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

A blog link to another blog linking to a newspaper article: and no link to the actual standards. And both blogs focus on superficial response to the number of standards, paying very little attention to the contents. If this is how the blogosphere is going to challenge mainstream media with more relevance, less shallowness, and more analysis well...I don't see it.

And, actually, there are 33 "state goals", and from skimming probably about twice that many "learning standards" underneath them, the 172 "learning goals" Kevin, and his blog source, refer to seems to be a count of the extremely narrow, detailed "benchmarks" that are the lowest detail level. For instance, the first Goal, its first Learning Standard, and the associated Benchmarks are:

State Goal 1: Read with understanding
and fluency.

Learning Standard A
Apply word analysis and vocabulary skills to
comprehend selections.

BENCHMARKS
1.A.Ka Understand that pictures and symbols have meaning and that print carries a message.
1.A.Kb Demonstrate understanding of concepts about books (i.e., front and back, turning pages, knowing where a story starts, and viewing page on left before page on right).
1.A.Kc Demonstrate understanding of concepts about print (i.e., words, letters, spacing between words, and left to right).
1.A.Kd Demonstrate phonological awareness (i.e., rhymes and alliterations).
1.A.Ke Demonstrate phonemic awareness (i.e., segmenting and blending syllables and phonemes, and substituting sounds).
1.A.Kf Demonstrate alphabet knowledge (i.e., recognizes letters and their most common sounds).
1.A.Kg Read one syllable and high frequency words.

Standards are here.

Skimming them, they seem pretty reasonable, but I'd be a lot more interested to here discussion of the contents than shallow comments about the number of "learning goals".

Posted by: cmdicely on September 14, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

but for every teacher who instills a love of learning and original thought in a child, there are at least three lined up to smother it.

Christ. Yes, that's why these people get graduate degrees and then work for $30K - because they hate children.

In the end, like so many other things, it's all about money; money for school administrators and money for teachers.

Whereas private schools charge $24,000 per year per student because...?

Posted by: craigie on September 14, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Understand that each of us belongs to a family and recognize that families vary

I am sorry, I am only a straight talking conservative.
Could some liberal please explain what this is liberal code for.

My guess is it means something like

Families can have one daddy and mommy, two daddies, two mommies, one daddy, one mommy or just be some kind of autonomous collective. We want to teach our children that the word "family" really has no meaning because to attach any meaning to it would offend some people and we never want to offend anyone.

Of course liberal educators could never say such a thing. Its much easier to hide behind liberal PC code.

Posted by: John Hansen on September 14, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK
I'm a fan of recylcling, but please don't start social engineering our children at the kindergarten level.

Understanding the purpose of recycling isn't "social engineering".

If the goal was that they must accept that that purpose was desirable, and that recycling was the best way to acheive it, well, that would be.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 14, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK
I didn't check out the remaining 162 goals, but I wouldn't be surprised if they include Mr. Garrison's teaching his kindergarten class the proper way of placing a condum onto a erect penis, as well as, reviewing of sexual positions.

You do realize that this says more about your bias and preconceptions than anything else, right?

Posted by: cmdicely on September 14, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK
I am sorry, I am only a straight talking conservative.

I don't think so.

Could some liberal please explain what this is liberal code for.

Its not liberal code, its plain English. Your assumption that it is special factional code seems to me likely to stem from the fact that as a self-styled "straight talking conservative", you are used to talking in (and being talked to by your ideological cohorts in) ideological code, and are projecting that behavior onto others.

Families exist. They do, in fact, whatever any ideological ideal may state, vary. Deal with it.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 14, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, but "..families vary.." is not a goal statement. It defines nothing. It is too vague.

I can meet this goal very easily by saying in this family the people have a last name Smith - and in this family the people have a last name Jones - see families vary.

I can only assume that the people who wrote these goals were too intimidated to write what they really meant.

This is the essence of what PC speak is all about.

Posted by: John Hansen on September 14, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

BTW - cmdicely

I really respect your comments on this blog and have read many of them.

I will freely admit that Republicans speak in a right wing code when they want to present an agenda but not sound to offensive.

Will you admit that liberals like the educators who wrote these goals are playing the same game here?

Posted by: John Hansen on September 14, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Families can have one daddy and mommy, two daddies, two mommies, one daddy, one mommy or just be some kind of autonomous collective.

Is that not true?

We want to teach our children that the word "family" really has no meaning because to attach any meaning to it would offend some people and we never want to offend anyone.

That's your interpretation. My interpretation of your anxiety is that what you would prefer we teach children is this:

"There is only one correct way to live. Anyone who doesn't live this way, should be singled out and ridiculed when small, and later, when bigger, we can beat them up."

Posted by: craigie on September 14, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

The beauty of it is that if a kid fails, the teachers/school has covered their asses.

Chesire, after 25 years as a pubic school teacher, I have to wonder where you live. Teachers are very much held accountable for failures.

After every grading period, I had to compile, calculate, and turn a stat sheet that showed my grade distrobution for each class I taught - never mind that such stats could be printed up automatically for the principal.

Teachers who had failure rate that were deemed unacceptable can face a variety of interventions and sanctions including loss of pay.

I suggest you schedule a meeting with your local superintendent and dicuss how they handle such issues.

In my world, tachers ar

Posted by: Keith G on September 14, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry for my failure to successfully edit my post.

Posted by: Keith G on September 14, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Craigie,

No. This is the problem I have with liberals on social issues.

Liberals claim that to set a standard ( i.e. make judgements ) is to "..[single] out and [ridicule].."

Don't you understand that you can make a rational judgement about someone's lifestyle being non-optimum and love them at the same time.

Just because I think that there is a ideal for a family, does not make me one who ridicules those who do not live that ideal.

Compassion is not dropping all standards, compassion is keeping the standards and loving those who don't meet them.

I close this with a story I heard on a talk radio program.

A politically active blind woman called up and said she had converted to the republican party.

She said that when she worked for Democratic campaigns they loved having her on the campaign, but never found any work for her to do. The democratic campaigns wanted to have a blind worker because they cared about "having a blind worker".

When she worked for a Republican campaign they were treated here not like she was a special token, but managed to give her lots of work that she could actually accomplish. The Republicans were not concerned with "having a blind worker" but finding maningfull work that a blind person could do.

Posted by: John Hansen on September 14, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK
Will you admit that liberals like the educators who wrote these goals are playing the same game here?

Um, no.

First, because I see no evidence that anyone involved in writing these goals is a "liberal".

Second, because I see no evidence of anything being written in "code" rather than plain English.

If you want to present evidence that there is any "code" written by "liberals" here, we can discuss the evidence.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 14, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Social engineering"? "Little robots"? It's recycling, fercryinoutloud.

I eagerly await the fleshed-out arguments for how throwing your Coke cans, cardboard and pickle jars in the trash develops a robustly iconoclastic personality, whereas separating them could represent a dangerous turning away from the social contract that's kept us out of the wilderness all these years.

This makes those idiots who bitch about being told "Happy holidays" sound reasonable.

Posted by: shortstop on September 14, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK
Liberals claim that to set a standard ( i.e. make judgements ) is to "..[single] out and [ridicule].."

So, really, your objection to the standard here was really code for a desire that there be a standard "right family" that children be taught about in school?

Don't you understand that you can make a rational judgement about someone's lifestyle being non-optimum and love them at the same time.

Sure. I just don't see what relevance it has to the specific subject matter under discussion.


Just because I think that there is a ideal for a family, does not make me one who ridicules those who do not live that ideal.

No, just someone who objects to reality be taught as it is, since it does not conform to your ideological ideal.

(FWIW, I think there is an ideal for a family, too; its no doubt different from yours as it relates to the interpersonal relationships within the family, rather than the biological characteristics of its adult members. But I don't react badly to people being taught about the variety of real families, even though many real families do not meet my ideal. You, on the other hand, apparently do object to people being taught about realities that do not meet your ideal.)

Compassion is not dropping all standards, compassion is keeping the standards and loving those who don't meet them.

There are some standards that should be kept, there are some that should be rejected. Keeping the latter, especially for reasons of narrow-mindedness and prejudice, is not "compassionate", whether or not mitigated by supposed "love" for those who fall short of the misguided standards.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 14, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK
Yes, but "..families vary.." is not a goal statement.

True, "...families vary..." is not a goal statement. "Understand that each of us belong to a family and recognize that families vary," OTOH, is a goal statement.

It defines nothing. It is too vague.

Yeah, so? The "benchmarks" in this document are not detailed definition. They are further elaborated with the descriptors (which describe activities associated with the "benchmark") in the document, and the references the document makes to external sources. The "descriptor" associated with Benchmark 18.B.K, the one at issue here, is "Look at classmates family photos and discuss the variety of family structures."

I can only assume that the people who wrote these goals were too intimidated to write what they really meant.

Well, yeah, you could assume that, and your assumption would speak more about your own partisan bias than it would about the authors of this document.

They said exactly what they meant, at the same level of detail as the rest of the standards. Now, maybe you think its all some clever subversive liberal code—maybe you think Benchmark 18.D.Kb "Begin to understand how people rely on others for goods and services" is a clever code phrase for Marxist indoctrination. But if you aren't that far around the bend, I don't see why you'd assume that this description, at about the same level of generality, must be "liberal code" for any kind of social indoctrination, rather than the mere recognition of factual variety that it speaks directly and non-covertly to.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 14, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Craigie-

Standards and pay for public school teachers vary from state to state. Here in Massachusetts, the average teacher's pay is $53k (the average in Boston is $69k) and the national average is $47k. (http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/07/03/teacher_raises_surpass_us_rate/). That means that, public school teachers in Masachusetts earn 53% more per month worked than the statewide mean ($5.8k/month of work vs a statewide mean of $3.8k).South Dakota is the lowest at $32k for a nine month work year which still exceeds the statewide mean of $29k by 10% in absolute terms (by 50% if adjusted to measure monthly pay).*

Teaching used to be a chronically underpaid profession, but those days are past.

Here in Massachusetts until only a few years ago, all that was required to teach in the public schools was a bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate. Teachers are now required to have masters degrees, but predictably since that time, masters degrees have been much easier to obtain for much less work.

I don't suggest that teachers "hate" children. What I am saying is that many, if not most, teachers are indifferent to their jobs and routinely put their own interests ahead of those of their students. Why do they "smother" childrens' curiosity? Because it's easier to oversee an classroom of acquiescent drones than it is to engage them and nurture their intellects. It's a cookie cutter approach designed to turn out a bunch of bland little conformists.

You are quite right to point out that private schools charge to educate their students, but according to a Cato Institute study in 2003 ("What Does a Voucher Buy?
A Closer Look at the Cost of Private Schools," http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-486es.html), the average private school tuition in the United States is $4,689 ( far less than the $24k you cite) vs. $8,273 per student paid by Massachusetts taxpayers that same year (http://finance1.doe.mass.edu/statistics/pp03_trends.html), which is in line with the national average of $8,830 cited in the Cato Institute study. Public school teachers are also paid more than their private and parochial school counterparts - anywhere from 25 to 119% more according to "The Patterns of Teacher Compensation" published by the U.S. Dept of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (http://nces.ed.gov/pubs/web/95829.asp).

Posted by: Chesire11 on September 14, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Keith G-

My post about homework was more a hasty expression of cynicism than reason and was unfair. I'm afraid I fell into the temptation to speak out of my backside on that one and I offer you my apology.

Posted by: Chesire11 on September 14, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

What I am saying is that many, if not most, teachers are indifferent to their jobs and routinely put their own interests ahead of those of their students.

Chesire:

I am sorry for you and the children of your community if that is indeed the case. But I seriously doubt that your hypothesis would hold up under examination. In any case, if indeed you have concrete observations that what you write is true, you have a duty to communicate such to your local school authorities so that they may correct what seems to me to be an untenable situation.

The teachers I have spent over 20 years working with, regularly spend great amounts of their personal time grading projects, making parent contacts, and adapting outside sources to make up for inadequate curriculum materials. They often spend their own familys money to buy materials for use in the classroom.

I doubt that my experiences are that unique.

Posted by: Keith G on September 14, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK
Standards and pay for public school teachers vary from state to state. Here in Massachusetts, the average teacher's pay is $53k (the average in Boston is $69k) and the national average is $47k. (http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/07/03/teacher_raises_surpass_us_rate/). That means that, public school teachers in Masachusetts earn 53% more per month worked than the statewide mean ($5.8k/month of work vs a statewide mean of $3.8k).

Er, $53k/year is $4.4k/mo. I don't know where you get the "statewide mean" from. The Boston local amount of $69k/year is $5.75k/month, but that's not "public school teachers in Massachussetts" but "public school teachers in the City of Boston".

South Dakota is the lowest at $32k for a nine month work year which still exceeds the statewide mean of $29k by 10% in absolute terms (by 50% if adjusted to measure monthly pay).*

Source? This seems unlikely. Average annual pay of teachers usually includes those teachers that work summer school, a fairly large subset.

Teaching used to be a chronically underpaid profession, but those days are past.

Really? Compare it with average salaries in fields requiring similar education rather than average salaries for all jobs, and tell me that's true. And subtract out the average amount that teachers in each state spend on classroom equipment, and then tell me its true.


You are quite right to point out that private schools charge to educate their students, but according to a Cato Institute study in 2003 ("What Does a Voucher Buy?
A Closer Look at the Cost of Private Schools," http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-486es.html), the average private school tuition in the United States is $4,689 ( far less than the $24k you cite) vs. $8,273 per student paid by Massachusetts taxpayers that same year (http://finance1.doe.mass.edu/statistics/pp03_trends.html), which is in line with the national average of $8,830 cited in the Cato Institute study.

Yeah, private schools get to cherry pick their students, and weed out the most expensive to educate. Big surprise.

Public school teachers are also paid more than their private and parochial school counterparts - anywhere from 25 to 119% more according to "The Patterns of Teacher Compensation" published by the U.S. Dept of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (http://nces.ed.gov/pubs/web/95829.asp).

Yeah, lower teacher standards and the ability to weed out the biggest educational challenges lets you pay teachers less, too.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 14, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

A Closer Look at the Cost of Private Schools," http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-486es.html), the average private school tuition in the United States is $4,689 ( far less than the $24k you cite) vs. $8,273 per student paid by Massachusetts taxpayers that same year.

Oh please. I didn't make my number up - that's the amount of money that several friends are paying to send their kids to (several different) private schools. And far be it from me to suggest that the Cato institute has an agenda, and so went looking to create statistics to support it.


Because it's easier to oversee an classroom of acquiescent drones than it is to engage them and nurture their intellects. It's a cookie cutter approach designed to turn out a bunch of bland little conformists.

Golly, that sounds like a liberal criticism, not a conservative one. And to the extent that it might be true, it's hardly the fault of teachers. They don't create the curricula - they just teach to them. And since we are doing battle using anecdotes, here's mine: we went to see our kindergartener's teacher last year for the semi-annual one-on-one parent-teacher conference. She showed us the marks she had given our daughter, but she prefaced this by saying "I don't believe in grading 5 year olds. But they make me do it, so here are the grades I gave. Frankly, this doesn't mean a whole lot at this age, so take it for what it's worth."

Sounds like a reasonable individual to me.

Posted by: craigie on September 14, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals claim that to set a standard ( i.e. make judgements ) is to "..[single] out and [ridicule].."

Don't you understand that you can make a rational judgement about someone's lifestyle being non-optimum and love them at the same time.

Sure. Where in the conservative world is this being practiced, exactly? Perhaps you are a unique individual amongst your tribe, but normally when I hear conservatives speak about "standards," it's to define what is acceptable and what is not. "Sub-optimal" doesn't really come into it.

Posted by: craigie on September 14, 2006 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK
Average annual pay of teachers usually includes those teachers that work summer school, a fairly large subset.

cmdicely, sumer school pay is often on a supplimental contract basis. As such, I am wondering if it is recorded on the yearly payroll surveys.

In my district, and I beleive in all of my state, tax money is not used to fund summer school. Tuition is collected from the attending students and that fund must cover all costs including payroll. Therefore I doubt that such pay is part of the stats y'all are referring to.

Posted by: Keith G on September 14, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting that the "straight talking conservative" (what's that "code" for?) hopped right to the families vary concept...kinda proves what Al Franken has been saying...the Repug agenda for success is to use FEARS, SMEARS, and QUEERS!!! And, isn't it wonderful, it WORKS!!! Don't worry about whether your kindergartners can read/count/write...worry about whether they can THINK and whether they'll grow up in an America that resembles, in any way, the country it was founded to be.

Posted by: Dancer on September 14, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Craige' numbers are for private, non-parochial, schools.

There's a world of difference between Phillips Exeter and St. Maximilian Kolbe Central Catholic HS, or between a lab school and St Lambastia's parish elementary.

The $$$ statistics lump them in together.

Many day prep schools are just south of $20,000 p/a for 7-12.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on September 14, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how much Sesame Street affected this decision (kids often know the alphabet and how to count to 10 by the time they reach kindergarten thanks to it).

Posted by: Reality Man on September 14, 2006 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

Read the actual standards. I'm in my final semester of a multiple subject (primary) teaching credential program in California. I live, eat, and breathe the California content standards. Without even looking at the IL standards, I'll guess that you're probably talking about multiple content areas (e.g. math, language arts, p.e., visual arts, performing arts) and each of those content areas is subdivided further (e.g. math into number sense, measurement, mathematical reasoning, algebra and functions, etc).

What does this all mean? Well it means you get 172 standards when you break it all down.

So if I'm talking about Math, I might be talking about a child knowing how to use counting objects to solve very simple addition problems. That single activity might involve five separate standards within the math content area alone (adding is an algebraic function, knowing to use counting to add it a mathematical reasoning skill). If they're coloring their math, it's going to involve the visual arts content area. If they're dictating a story to their teacher to write down next to their math coloring, it's going to involve writing and listening and speaking standards.

You've got 180 days. You're doing many lessons a day. Every kindergarten lesson is going to hit multiple content areas (kinders tend to get a little bored with pure math lessons) and you've got a lot of standards.

We have put more curriculum into kindergarten, but from what I understand that's because the research supports it. The bottom line is that kids need to be reading by the end of first grade. If they are struggling in reading at the end of first grade, the vast majority never catch up. So we try to get all of their consonants and soft (sometimes hard instead) vowel sounds by the end of kindergarten.

Now if you want to talk about K-3 homework (a complaint of some commenters), that's another issue altogether. The research doesn't support homework in those grades. The push for that comes largely from the parents and administrators. I think most 1st-grade teachers would give only a token amount of homework if they could get away with it. But I digress.

Posted by: J Gordon on September 14, 2006 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Craige' numbers are for private, non-parochial, schools.

Right, or as I was going to post, Cato's numbers are for religious schools, which are subsidized, don't have to make a profit, and generally warp this discussion in other ways.

When you compare apples to apples, public schools give value for money, and most people who object to them, use that objection as cover for some other perceived grievance having to do with the perennial issue of indoctrination by clever leftists, who somehow simultaneously rule the world and yet are so out of touch with the common folk that they cannot win elections.

Oh, and this indoctrination has been going on for generations, yet somehow everyone grows up to be a conservative, except for a few dead-enders who don't get it.

In the end, it's not really about economics.

Posted by: craigie on September 14, 2006 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

What I remember about kindergarten:

#1) getting busted for hanging out back with my homeboys

#2) that bitch teacher Mrs. Alexander, who I realize in retrospect probably hated my entire generation

#3) being dressed up in a stupid furry cat costume (and not getting paid for it like they do at Disneyland) and being unable to take a piss

I think my mother thought I was functionally retarded because I refused to learn my ABCs until she bought me a typewriter. Of course, when they finally figured out I had an IQ in the top 1ish percent it was an occasion to not only continue to ignore me but become (I suspect) secretly paranoid that their demon child (they'd never say it aloud, but you know that's what they think) was bright enough to get rid of them, and properly dispose of the bodies.

I liked pre-school better. Lots of dinosaurs, and Jesus action figures.

Posted by: Linus on September 15, 2006 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

"If your children realized how LAME you are, they'd murder you in your sleep."

--Frank Zappa

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 15, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

Things I remember about kindergarten:

1) The anklebones of my teacher in her leather shoes, which I developed a proto-erotic fascination for.

2) The smell of paste.

3) The lameness of Legos compared to the erector set on the top bookshelf they wouldn't let our class play with, as it was for the second graders.

4) My class picture, where I actually looked, for the first and only time in my life, normal and handsome and well-groomed.

5) My mother insisting I parrot off scientific terminology we watched together on public television to prove to the neighbors that I was a genius.

6) An entirely inchoate but deeply felt sense of doom.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 15, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

My child started kindegarten a couple of weeks ago, and at last night's parent meeting I learned that, indeed, he is expected to learn how to count to 210!

But K is a different ballgame now; most of the children in my affluent community have spent years in intense pre-school environments, most can recognize and write all the letters of the alphabet and their sounds.

Kindegarten here is only a half day, and with the standards, counting to 210, reading, and all that, the teacher told me sadly that "there isn't enough time to play..."

Posted by: fodog on September 15, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Cmdicely-

First of all, it's good to hear from you. I used to post here semi-regularly a while back, and I remember you as one of the particularly thoughtful and though provoking people on these boards.

To answer your points/questions, $53k does equates to $4.4k/month for someone working a 12 month work year. Teachers, however, have a nine month work year with the option of taking on summer jobs for income over and above their salary from the school district. Comparing the salary of someone who works nine months out of the year to that of someone who works a 12 month year is comparing apples and oranges. I therefore converted salaries to pay per month worked, in which case $53k divided over nine months equals $5,888/month worked. (For Boston school teachers, the average per month worked is $7,666.)

I get the statewide mean for both Massachusetts and South Dakota from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at:

http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcst.htm

I quickly pulled info on positions in the medical field (a large segment of the local economy and one of the largest employers in the commonwealth) that require roughly equivalent levels of training:

Registered Nurse $66k or $5.5k/month worked
Occupational Therapist $59k or $4.9k/month worked
Speech Pathologist $60k or $5k/month worked

All of which roughly equate to the $5,888/month worked mean for teachers. That said, there are other professions which do pay far more than teaching that require less training/education. For instance, high tech jobs often pay higher wages but may require only a BS degree so comparisons across professions can be problematic, which is why I chose to measure against the statewide mean. Statewide means give a good indication of the capacity of the community to support teachers' salaries and are less "anecdotal." In any case, I have provided the link to my source, so anyone can analyze the data themselves.

Teachers do often purchase supplies for the classroom, but so do parents. It's a ridiculous way of doing things, and says a lot about how serious we are about education in this country. How far such expenditures skew the salary figures for either the teachers or me is questionable.

Personally, I have no experience of either private or parochial schools, I suspect that they are not immune to the ills I have witnessed and experienced in the public school system. My point wasn't to suggest that they are better than public schools. I was merely responding to Craigie who quoted a tuition rate of $24k/year for private education.

Posted by: Chesire11 on September 15, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

also, I didn't delve into teacher salary figures to prove that teachers are overpaid. I was responding to Craigie's implication that the typical teacher earns only $32k/year. My beef with the public schools has less to do with pay than with the quality of their work.

Posted by: Chesire11 on September 15, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

There are some standards that should be kept, there are some that should be rejected. Keeping the latter, especially for reasons of narrow-mindedness and prejudice, is not "compassionate", whether or not mitigated by supposed "love" for those who fall short of the misguided standards.

Excellent debate going on between John Hansen. Good reading.

I have a straightforward question with regard to that debate. Is it OK to observe that 70% of inner city children being born out of wedlock is a bad thing? Is it acceptable to make that statement publicly? Does that statement lack in 'compassion'?

Or alternatively, if you object to the singling out of the inner city, would it be acceptable to observe that suburban children being born out of wedlock is a bad thing? I don't know the percentage there, but surely some of the stat hawks on this site have it at their fingertips.

In essence, questions like these are at the center of the family debate.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 15, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

oops. That should've read "... between John Hansen and cmdicely." Sorry.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 15, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Craigie-

I don't doubt that you do know people who spend that much for private school tuition, however, that is anecdotal data. I'm not saying that I don't make judgments based on anecdotal information, but I think you would agree that a more comprehensive survey of the available data is a better basis for discussion. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the Cato study, which is why I didn't assert their findings as proven fact, rather I attributed the information, so that you would be able to make your own assessment. (A study by the Heritage Foundation offered similar finding, but I declined to cite them as I have little faith in the integrity of that particular group.) Rejecting their findings out of hand, simply because the authors represent a political philosophy with which you may disagree, however, strikes me as rather closed-minded and a lazy rebuttal.

Being a liberal, I'm glad that you find some of my criticisms smack of liberal ideals. I believe fiercely in the importance of education and it's power, not merely to provide children with greater opportunities in life, but to provide them with the tools to live richer, more meaningful lives. Watching teachers going through the motions and complaining about salaries, workload, standard and any child who doesn't fit in frustrates me immensely. Take a look at the country around us, the voters and the leaders they choose, listen to what passes for discussion and debate and try to tell me that the schools and parents are doing their job of turning out critically thinking, literate, responsible citizens.

Posted by: Chesire11 on September 15, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Take a look at the country around us, the voters and the leaders they choose, listen to what passes for discussion and debate and try to tell me that the schools and parents are doing their job of turning out critically thinking, literate, responsible citizens.

Well, you've got me there. And here is the key point, which I'm glad you included:

and try to tell me that the schools and parents are doing their job

I don't dispute that. What I dispute is that we can blame all this on public school, teachers, and/or unions.

Posted by: craigie on September 15, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK
Is it OK to observe that 70% of inner city children being born out of wedlock is a bad thing?

It is incorrect to characterize that as an observation. Its a moral, or perhaps aesthetic, judgement.

It is, of course, okay to argue that it is a bad thing.

Is it acceptable to make that statement publicly?

Acceptable in what sense?

Does that statement lack in 'compassion'?

The statement itself has no necessary association, positive or negative, with compassion, though mistaking a moral judgement with a factual observation is a sign of close mindedness.

Or alternatively, if you object to the singling out of the inner city, would it be acceptable to observe that suburban children being born out of wedlock is a bad thing?

Same response as above.


Posted by: cmdicely on September 15, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Craigie-

I don't blame all of society's ills on teachers. Teaching is a challenging field and there are some teachers that are truly heroic in their dedication to their students. They are entitled to our respect and admiration, but the system as a whole is failing. Too many parents neglect their children at home, use the schools as a dumping ground and treat the behavioral problems that ensue with drugs (but that's a topic for a whole separate discussion).

I live in a relatively affluent town with a very well regarded public school system yet the system is obviously dysfunctional (I can only imagine what it must be like in less affluent rural and inner city areas). The schools here talk about the importance of parental involvement and community, but frankly resent and resist it when parents do try to be involved (unless their involvement is limited to fund raising activities). Parents are condescended to, those who advocate for their children are quickly labeled "difficult parents," and children requiring reasonable accommodation (but whose disabilities aren't severe enough to draw additional funding) become "problem children" and are actively resented by the staff.

When the system doesn't work, the children are the real victims, yet too often what I hear is not how the system is failing the children, but how it fails the teachers - people who chose their profession, fully aware of the rewards and challenges involved.

Posted by: Chesire11 on September 15, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Chesire11,

Well, I'll counter your anectdote with my own.

My local schools have always been rated near the top in the nation. I'd say I was lucky except I picked this area to live in largely due to excellent schooling.

I've never had any problem getting involved with my kid's teachers. Obviously when I talked to the baseball coach about my son I didn't presume to tell him my son should be on the team and I didn't tell him who he should pick. I've been a coach myself so I understood what much of his thought processes were.

The times where I have observed problems secondhand have been where oddball parents have tried to dictate to the schools or teachers without getting to know them first or where extremists have made crazy demands and the schools have not complied.

Maybe it is because my wife and I both have been in coaching or directing and we identify some with the teachers. We both know how tough it is you deal with some parents and to rtry to do what is best for everyone involved.

Posted by: Tripp on September 15, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Teachers do often purchase supplies for the classroom, but so do parents. "

Yes, but parents generally purchase supplies for their children, while teachers are buying supplies for perhaps 30 children.

Posted by: Dan S. on September 15, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

"4) My class picture, where I actually looked, for the first and only time in my life, normal and handsome and well-groomed."

My mother always says: you were so cute. What happened?

Posted by: Linus on September 15, 2006 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: dd on September 17, 2006 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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