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 Post subject: Worst in Class: How Education in Arizona Became an Economic
PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:36 pm 
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Worst in Class: How Education in Arizona Became an Economic Casualty

It's difficult to explain to people outside the region just how "old school" things can still be here in Arizona. In addition to being home to a sheriff known for stunts like bringing back the chain gang, self-styled conservatives dominate the state legislature and have in recent years proposed measures including allowing concealed weapons in bars, eliminating state-funded programs focusing on race, and prohibiting any activities "deemed contradictory to the values of American democracy or Western civilization." Some in the legislature reject mainstream and widely accepted concepts such as evolution, climate change, and multiculturalism, with at least one prominent figure being described as overtly racist in his associations and anti-immigrant ruminations.

In particular, there's a leadership cadre at the Capitol who've had it in for the state's educational system for some time now. Spearheaded by Republicans Russell Pearce (Senate Appropriations Committee Chair) and John Kavanagh (House Appropriations Committee Chair), the most recent attempt to manage the state's massive 2009 budget shortfall of $1.6 billion includes slashing state university budgets by $142 million and K-12 budgets by $133 million this academic year alone, and nearly $1 billion total over the next 17 months. Attempting to reach these figures will likely necessitate furloughs, firings, and hiring freezes at all three state universities, plus potentially dramatic reductions in primary education programs. And next year's situation may be even worse.

Coming into 2008, Arizona ranked 49th among states in expenditures per pupil. Also at the outset of '08, there were already attempts to slash educational budgets drastically, including a proposal by Kavanagh (endorsed by Pearce) that "would require universities to charge students at least 40 percent of what it costs to attend the schools," thus shifting financial aid burdens at the state's public institutions to the students:

"Kavanagh said if students actually have to put up their own cash, they will 'respect the courses more.' But Kavanagh's plan has a more immediate goal. Requiring students to pay more of the cost of their education would decrease the amount of money universities use to provide scholarships. And that, in turn, could reduce the cash they need from the state. 'I think, all around, it's good for the students and good for the taxpayers,' he said."
The present cuts, signed by new Governor Jan Brewer following Janet Napolitano's departure to become the head of Homeland Security, need to be viewed in a context whereby the state legislature consistently has manifested hostility toward public infrastructure in general and education in particular. Efforts to restrict access to schools by immigrants, impose English-only instruction, require American Flags in every state-funded classroom, eliminate programs emphasizing race, and curtail activities deemed ideologically un-American have been pervasive in Arizona in recent years. And now we arrive at a juncture where the budget crisis ostensibly is being used as cover to "cannibalize" the state's education system, quite possibly in an irreparable manner.

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 Post subject: Re: Worst in Class: How Education in Arizona Became an Economic
PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:47 pm 
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This is the culmination of one of Obama's less controversial appointments. When Arizona had a Democratic Governor in Janet Napolitano, she would block such gutting during the budgeting process. The Repugs do not have veto proof majorities in either house of the state legislature. With Napolitano gone, we now have Jan Brewer, a Repug rubberstamp & dimwit who makes the War Chimp look like straight A material. All teaching in public schools is done in an effort to improve scores on standardized testing. We have the ultimate Wal-Mart situation, where the masses can only qualify to work at Wally World and can only afford to shop at Wally World. The rich continue to get richer and the poor's labors is translated in barely being able to feed and clothe their families.

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 Post subject: Re: Worst in Class: How Education in Arizona Became an Economic
PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 6:11 pm 
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I dont know about anyone else, but in work, when I see someone that is working at something more efficiently than me I study them a bit to see what they are doing differently, ask them some questions, and somtimes work with them so I can learn their system.

What place does the U.S. now hold in regards to education? Not all that great if I remember correctly.

Using the same principles as above, why do we not go to some of these countrys who are preforming better and preforming better while spending less, and in some cases actually have more children to teach, and find out what they are doing differently. We dont have to implement everything, or even anything they do, but we should at least look because the sad truth is we are raising a nation of dumb kids now. I dont mean the kids are dumb, they can learn, our system is just not giving them that opportunity.

Just my 2 cents.

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 Post subject: Re: Worst in Class: How Education in Arizona Became an Economic
PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:16 pm 
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Using the same principles as above, why do we not go to some of these countrys who are preforming better and preforming better while spending less, and in some cases actually have more children to teach, and find out what they are doing differently. We dont have to implement everything, or even anything they do, but we should at least look because the sad truth is we are raising a nation of dumb kids now. I dont mean the kids are dumb, they can learn, our system is just not giving them that opportunity.

Just my 2 cents.


Actually this was done when a great deal of attention was given to the Japanese and German educational methods in the late 80s and early 90s. It was found that the Japanese schools are very disciplined and assign over three hours of homework a night. They go to school around 240 days a year. If you multiply this out, you will find that a Japanese student may have up to 720 additional days of school over an American student. This divides out to 4 years of American school - all in the same 12 year period. Parents, especially the mothers, take a strong interest in the education of their children and nothing interferes with study. However, Japan had, at that time at least, the highest suicide rate among young people among the developed countries.

According to this report:

Students are tested in to high school and college. Good scores and you go to college prep high schools. Bad scores and you go to a blue-collar, career-oriented high school.

In Japan, you have a lifetime employment with a company. Good news - you may have a job. Bad news - it's your lot for life.

Japanese students are taught conformity to group norms. This does lead to respect for peers and constant worry about what others think. Lots of bullying goes on. On the flip side, American students are taught individuality and creativeness.

Germany "tracks" its students, which means that students are identified early as to talents and abilities and thus educated accordingly. America offers educational opportunities to one and all, regardless of abilities or talents.

This report echoes what I learned about German schools during the time I am referencing:
Quote:
In Germany, a typical school day starts at 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning. Classes are on a college-style schedule, with some courses offered only two or three times a week. There is also school on Saturday mornings, in some areas only on alternate Saturdays. Although the school year is ten months long and the summer vacation period only lasts about six weeks, students get many more holidays and short vacations during the school year than do U.S. students. (School days per year — Germany: 220; U.S.: 180). The curriculum usually focuses on mostly academic subjects, even in vocational schools, with a limited offering of physical education, sports, art, and music. Religious instruction is required, but students over the age of 14 can opt out. Interscholastic sports competition is rare, though there may be an occasional track and field contest. Computer science courses are increasingly available (the Germans in particular have begun linking many of their schools via the Internet), but access to computers and other technology is still often quite limited. A 15 or 20-minute break around 10:30 am, called the große Pause, gives students and teachers the opportunity to have a snack and relax before classes start again. There is usually no school cafeteria, as the school day typically ends at around noon or 1:00 pm. (Many schools in the former DDR [GDR] still have cafeterias.) Students go home for lunch, and in the afternoon they usually have a fair amount of homework to do.


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 Post subject: Re: Worst in Class: How Education in Arizona Became an Economic
PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:07 pm 
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Much of the current school systems ways of operating come from a basic attitude that teaching is a lower class function. We in America try to justify sub-standard pay with the argument that teachers only work nine months a year. The 9-month school came about because the majority of students had to be available to work on the family farm/business the other three months. When we became an urban-based society, there was no updating of the education system. We are left with overpaid administrators screwing over the front line educators.

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 Post subject: Re: Worst in Class: How Education in Arizona Became an Economic
PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 4:50 am 
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We are left with overpaid administrators screwing over the front line educators.


TRUE! In my own area, far too many people who got education degrees failed as classroom teachers, but went back to school and earned certification in administration. They went back to work as principals and, in some cases, as superintendents. During my last year of teaching, the new principal of my school was incredibly inept. He was so inept, he had been the assistant principal at another school where he hadn't been considered for the principal's position when the principal retired. He had been at nine different schools in one capacity or another. The school has had two other incredibly bad principals while most of my former colleagues have left or retired.

Then we have elected school boards whose members have no background whatsoever in education.
:roll:

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