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Author Topic: An 8th grade education in 1895, this is what children were expected to know...  (Read 4153 times)

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Offline CassandraNova

The test is hardly academic either how can a citizen vote responsibly if they don't understand the basics of how government works and our history as a nation?

I'm not sure that this is a valid question, given that the current administration won office largely on the result of the "who would you rather have a beer with" test.  That was the message his campaign staff put together, and the driving criticism of his opponent, VP Gore wasn't that he didn't understand how government works or was unsuitable for office, but that he was an intellectual elitist, a boring academic, and not at all like a country boy from Texas.

I frankly think the problem is if education is free its not respected as much and parents don't feel the need to be involved. If a parent had to be a consumer and shop around perhaps they would take the matter seriously and had to pay for the education to some degree.

The unstated major premise of your analysis is that you must essentially make the case that children do not have a right to a free, appropriate education.  Frankly, that's a deal killer for me and a lot of other people right there.  On what do you base that premise, aside from your objection to the "monopoly" of government run schools?

So the criticism private schools won't properly educate those with learning disabilities and those that are of disadvantaged backgrounds are crazy. In fact it worked because they treated every student the same...

See, you can't actually do that.  You can't assume that a child with autism or severe mental disabilities can or will respond the same to the same intervention and instructional strategies that children without disabilities will.  That's why part of the IEP of every student identified as having special needs will include very specific modifications to lesson plans and curriculum to best meet the individual needs of that child.

Want to know the villians as I see it in this mess? The government demanding control of schools at the highest levels of our society instead of local and state control.

The role of funding and administering the schools in the U.S. is actually one in which local and state governments play by far a larger role than in most other countries around the world.  Think about it; teachers are interviewed by principals of local schools, who make recommendations to the school board, who themselves interface with the human resources departments of the country and state department of education.  The state and district sets the pay scale for teachers, the state mandates what qualifications a teacher must possess in order to receive certification and licensure to teach, and local property taxes make up more than 60% of local school budgets. 

It is precisely because of this mismash of local, state, and federal control over the school systems that there is so much conflict between the roles played by various agencies and NGOs.  In most other industrial countries, education is managed from the top-down, and these are routinely the schools whose students outperform the US on standardized tests, including Sweden, Germany, Japan, and so on.

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

I will have you read this first. And I will make the case as this the public schools due to to government layered management, union interference by the teachers, social engineering obligations that have nothing to do with basic education and the simple fact they are not cost effective public schools should go.

What is this with people in the country the government almost always spend twice as much or more to do things that private interests if there was a market would do less expensively. That alone for me is sufficent most private schools cost less than public schools I did a survey just of private schools in my area and almost all of them small and large cost less than a public school student. One example a non-religious private school teaching disadvantaged black children of middle school age costs $5000 per student and the public schools here in Florida average around $7500 and can you guess which one does better in test results and outcomes under standard testing. One guess. Hint, its no public school in my area.

Why not just free education and let the free market come up with all those wonderful solutions and new ideas that this nation is built on. And for the very poor and special needs children I'm sure charity schools and options would appear at some point.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

And for our very poor and special needs children...something will come some point....

Yep, our nation was founded on great ideas.

Offline CassandraNova


I'm sorry, but I didn't see anything in your reply or in the link you sent me to that answers the question/statement I made in my previous post.  It seems to me that the underlying major premise of your case is that children are not entitled to a free, apporpriate public education.  Is this in fact the case?

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Entitled to free education, no its not a right in my opinion although most states have that as a constitutional obligation to a great degree. The problem I really have is that the government simply is not cost effective the higher up you go in running any program. I have no problems if a township or city or county want to fund a program of public education locally using local taxes and funding. The control and regulations then are kept locally and under the control of the community who can spend what they feel is fair and teach what they think is important to teach.

Libertarian thought is clear and its often true that the free market will fill needs since education is something all parents would want its logical that need would be met and free the cost effective market competition to put out options. And instead of the usual they tax you, send part of that money to the state and Federal government then get that back in part to your community with the strings attached we would fund it as it should be. The parents deciding with the resources they have how to educate their children that could be again property taxes funding local schools in total or that with corporate funds or as I suspect many wonderful new models of education would be formed. With the support of other services to fill other needs.

Public schools as I pointed out cost more than parochial and many private non-religious schools who have an incentive to teach well if they do not the parents will take their money elsewhere.

And what is "appropriate" education lets say a family who is big into the KKK want no multicultural education or teaching of racially specific holidays or honored months like Black History Month can they say no? What about a black seperatist family can they have an all black classroom for their child? What if you have a religious fundamentalist and don't want evolution taught to their child or any concepts they find morally offensive? Its a rather hard thing to pin down for what you find appropriate I can find groups that would think that is unreasonable and interfering in their moral values at home. And I have to point out the parents as far as I'm concerned are the ones who are to see to each childs education and a school is if the child attends one ASSISTS the parents in this, not to take the place of the parents.

I have a local case in this. A white nationalist family has a daughter who called hispanic children "beaners" and said they should go back to Mexico where they belong, these were children of farm workers. The school required she write a report on Mexicans and she wrote how inferior Mexicans are with what she saw as moral and cultural defects, not that I agree with her, but she wrote the report. Now they are even angrier and she did what was asked of her and they are threatening further punishment. I don't understand why this has to be an issue if the parents could get their tax money back for schools they could send her to a school they like and no one would be upset. And at a personal level the child is entitled to free speech even in grade school and that doesn't exclude hurtful speech so they overstep their authority here and enforce the will of the State. That is indoctrination as bad as if the government was under a religious authority and forced a religious worldview on children. I'm sure the white family found the education of their child very inappropriate in this case.

By the way why do you think children or anyone else is entitled to anything we have great freedom in this country but with that one assumes responsibility for ones own choices. Parents choose to be parents. Parents take that duty and obligation and with that comes certain duties housing the child, feeding the child and the like the education is just another duty one should expect to provide.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2008, 01:00:14 PM by RubySlippers »

Offline CassandraNova

To answer your question as to what I mean when I say appropriate, the concept of FAPE, (Free Appropriate Public Education) is grounded in the landmark legislation called IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act.  It has evolved since then to become a technical concept within education that applies to all students. What is means, broadly, is that the education a student recieves is (1) designed to meet the students' unique educational needs, (2) addresses both academic needs and functional needs, (3) provides access to the general curriculum to meet the challenging expectations established for all children and (4) is reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits.

Coming back to what you said about your belief that free education is not a right, all I can say with that statement is that it's a position that most free-market countries have moved away from.  It was the de facto practice for much of American history, to treat an education as a commodity rather than a right, and it is not a modality that enjoys a great deal of support these days.  You and I will simply disagree on this, because I am on the other end of the spectrum.  I believe that a free appropriate public education is a right.

I will mention again that funding and governing public schools in the U.S. is handled from the bottom up, with the district enjoying the greatest power, followed by the state and federal government in decreasing levels of influence.  It is not state income or sales tax that directly funds schools, but local property taxes.

Those countries I was talking about earlier that routinely do better than U.S. students are precisely those that have a greater deal of state-level control over their schools.  Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, etc., all have educational policy directed on the national level, with a unified state curriculum and professional standards. 

And your charge that private schools provide better per-dollar value for students misses a few key pieces of information.  First of all (and I'm going to have to speak in generalities because there is a wide range of variation among private schools, just as there is among public schools) most private schools do not provide transportation to and from school, which is a not inconsiderable operational expense.  Most private schools do not provide food for students, although some cater to outside companies.  Food service has never been a money-making strategy for public schools, even before you consider the added expense of children that qualify for free or reduced price meals.  Thirdly, athletic facilities at private schools, while more prevalent than at public schools, are not universal either, whereas they are at public schools. 

But finally, the single greatest reason why public schools spend more on a per-student basis is the fact of special education students.  Nationwide averages indicate that 13.7 percent of all schoolchildren receive at least some special education services as part of their schooling, and the individual needs of children in these programs entails a higher cost.  Educating a student with special needs costs $9000 more in a given school year than a mainstream student, and factoring that as a consideration would close the cap between private and public schoole expenditure per child vastly.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

First, as I have more familiarity with culture and socialization, I will address the situation regarding indoctrination of children.  Governments have used the education system as a classic way to socialize children into the norms of that society.  Everything that truly makes us a member of this society can be learned and traced to the education system.  Norms ranging from learning to say please to the dynamics of the nuclear family are demonstrated in schools.  Parents did play a larger role at one time, but schools have become harder pressed to advance this socialization.  This is one reason why schools find themselves at the center of so many cultural debates.  These institutions are the classic training ground for future citizens.

Obviously then a public school will advance a socially acceptable agenda.  Addressing the concerns of people desiring non-traditional schools, the market is still open.  A school is free to deny almost all federal funding and follow their own curriculum.  They must stay within federal guidelines and pass any required testing to be standardized, but largely can teach whichever social construct they desire.  As none exist now, I find it hard to believe that any child raised by their parents in such an environment would find a private school matching this ideology simply because public education was abolished.  There is not a significant enough demand now for these schools and so it can only be assumed that this lack of demand would persist.

Next I might address the situation with the little girl and her views on Mexicans.  Granted her parents raised her to be a white nationalist, which is fine.  They are doing her a disservice though by not impressing on her the need to keep her views in an appropriate medium.  All people are told to suppress their individuality and culture when faced with necessity.  Presenting ourselves for job interviews, school meetings and learning acceptable behavior is part of growing up.  None of us have sympathy for a person who curses throughout their job interview and does not get the job.  This child needs to learn that while her views are important and she has the right to share them, doing so has consequences.  What if this report was written for an application to a college, would anyone be surprised if she did not get in?

Freedom to do something does not equate to freedom from the consequences of those actions.

Now I will do my best to address various issues with the presented article.  First though I would like to point out that the author takes several liberties that are unfounded.  Among those is the issue of property tax.  Most public schools are to be found in urban, inner city venues.  These are largely funded by property taxes from urban business owners and those that rent apartment complexes.  Few of these people would move due to a shift in the public school system.  Therefore property taxes would still exist and the local government would simply take that money elsewhere.  Suburban families might move, but this is highly unlikely since other factors for relocating would be satisfaction with the community and job location.  I see no evidence to support that mentality.  People will not move and property taxes will remain.

While the author makes light of federal regulations, these are quite important.  Those regulations apply across private and public schools.  These are a standard set by both the local and federal government to regulate schools and their curriculum.  Simply because public schools are abolished does not mean the federal government will pick up its toys and go home.  Those guidelines would remain.  Since those guidelines would remain, private schools to follow the public school downfall would be near the same as they are now.  So this argument of educational diversity seems unfounded since the schools would still have to teach a required curriculum and adhere to standardized testing to enter college. 

People are free to establish private schools now and are free to compete with the federal government just like many others.  Abolishing public schools would cause a jump in the creation of these schools, but only because a market is now forced open.  Similar to if public water was shut down, private water facilities would skyrocket.  If people valued the education of their children enough to take their children from the public school system, they could have done so.  The market, as you say, would have adjusted and supplied for them.  People do not or cannot due to financial reasons.  Those financial reasons will not change.

The people most harmed by this would be those in the lower class and middle class.  There will be no alleviation of the burden caused by education only an increase.  Parents will now have to pay for the tuition, books, uniforms, lunches and any other activities that the government normally extended.  If the parents cannot afford the school, then their children won’t go.  So parents will have to choose between missing work to care for their children, getting family to do so, or allowing their children to be without supervision.  Unsupervised children, especially adolescents, have been linked to a rise in criminal activity and toward increased teenage pregnancy.

Such a move would serve to further drive a wedge into the class disparity.  The rich will send their children to the same schools before the abolishment of public education.  Upper middle class will simply do the same or those that lived in a good school system will just transfer them to a private school.  Lower middle class will be hard pressed and the poor might never see the inside of a school.  Class mobility will be sharply affected in the upward direction in the negative. 

I have yet to see a compelling reason for this change but yet see many reasons against.

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

I will argue regarding the Federal Government as a Constitutional Literalist unless you can demonstrate in the body of the document any simple language that grant to that level of government any control over education, they have no authority to do so. They can ban discrimination and other situations such as segregated schools perhaps which they did do, they still would be hard pressed to show me they have a fundamental right to such an overreach of their authority. States can Florida for public schools have many consitutional provisions clearly spelled out for schools they fund. This could be changed by a simple amendment the same with having a standing army and air force and many other powers they have stolen. Again why does the government at the Federal level have to duplicate a department ,education, that every state and most counties within states already offer?

We are simple people we simply regard the core document as key you want the Federal Government to do a thing amend it that is the proper way to do so otherwise the 9th and 10th Amendments take precedent to where the powers lay.

Now as for transportation of children to school and the like the free market would also create these services but since a middle school student or high school student in cities could take mass transportation in many areas, there already is a system in place. If one adds in local schooling, homeschooling, microschooling and other options you could easily have cost effective options within walking distance of the home. School lunches and the like as well would have needs met. Might I point out that this is still a matter of control and that any involvement of the government risks violating the rights of parents, which I can make an arguement have fundamental rights here to be considered. This partially crafted from existing court interpretations of the Consitution. First the First Amendment protects religious freedom and seperation of church and state, a principle I see as valid if a child is from a religious home, the state teaching things in opposition to that is also violating the rights of the parent to a education from oppositional worldviews. I could also argue the right to privacy applies if a womans body cannot be controlled what about the parents rights to mold their child as they wish without interference from the government as a natural extension of that principle to the family unit. And the the big ones the 10th Amendment reserves all powers not states as granted to the Federal Government solely to the States and the 9th Amendment the default that hands all powers not covered by the consitituion and not regulated by the state to the People. You did read the power of government the Congress can only make laws to enforce powers it is granted to it and those are in plain English and again I don't see Education listed anywhere. If you want them to ban discrimination and enforce compliance such as desegregation laws they can do that. But if public schools were abolished and there was no government funding and people were choosing the education options available to them, then such oversight would likely violate other amendments or not apply.

Special needs children are an area of concern I would simply state that if a child is not likely to be a functional and employable adult is it wise to waste money on their education at such high costs? Private schools and I attended those will educate most disabled children such as myself, I have friends who has mental retardation and learning disabilities at my schools over the years and none turned away minority children. In the more extreme cases one may have to let the children be uneducated if no other option is there but charity schools and options may become available.

Must I point out though free education is not free to parents they still have to pay for school supplies, uniforms and other expenses if you are so insistant on free education why do parents have to buy anything even the pencils and paper would have to be free. After all if families are poor isn't that also a burden that shouldn't be covered by them? You both brought up the poor well if they shouldn't have to pay for tuition and books then why anything else the school should have to provide for everything.

Did you ever think education costs so much and out of the reach of the poor because of the regulations, teachers unions and layered government red tape that if you instead encouraged an atmosphere to promote education, government hands off or fairly limited in scope, that costs would drop. Since all parents would be keen to see their children educated they would likely figure this out there is no need to fear change, I for one could come up with several options for the poor. Chip in and have a parent or two in a group of families homeschool the children as the other parents work, hiring a part-time teacher for ten hours a week for a smaller group of children maybe 20 supplemented with homeschooling, a local schoolhouse paid for by many families and local businesses etc. etc. Just think outside the box and things will be innovated as it should be in this country the free market guiding the way and the creativity of the American people at work and that historically has been a powerful and awesome source of our strengths here.

Offline Inkidu

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I'd pass.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

I will adhere to my original tract and attempt to handle more familiar issues first.  The argument regarding public education not being truly free is correct.  Parents still need to supply certain instruments for their children to attend class.  Though comparing a box of pencils and sheets of paper to the tuition of a private school seems a bit, lopsided.  Most public schools that I am aware of also offer voucher programs through certain companies.  I know this applies to uniforms and lunches specifically, but have heard of this applying toward other school supplies.

Also, the market system that is continually referenced is not working.  There is no blockade for private schools or individuals to perform any of these suggestions.  To my knowledge some have opted for homeschooling or purchasing private tutors.  So long as the minimum standard of education for the federal and state government is meet, there is no problem.  That such an idea has not reached a larger scale shows the market is not working in favor of this idea.  Abolishing public schools does not add options, but removes an option. 

In reference to extending the right to privacy against socialization, there is most certainly the possibility for an argument.  That entire argument though would exist completely in theory and have no worldly application.  A parent can keep their child at home, school them and never once let them out of the house or community.  They have that option already.  Once the parent takes the child outside of their home or the child becomes an adult with those options, the argument is no longer effective.  Society as a whole will always have customs, traditions, viewpoints and etiquette that is expected by any participating.  By exiting their particular niche, they are forcing themselves to be exposed to this culture and society.

The thought that education is out of reach for the poor due to bureaucracy and teacher’s unions did not occur to me.  This is primarily because most lower class families attend public schools, where they can generally afford the education.  Generally I assumed that lower class families could not attend private schools because they had little money.  Not sure why teacher’s unions would suddenly disappear if private facilities became the leaders of education.  Considering the poor pay of teachers matched to their educational requirements, I would contest that unions aren’t doing enough.  Honestly I would be more in line with the idea that raised costs are due to an increased student body, diversity of needs by that student body and people requesting more from their public schools.

I am sure that an argument can be made regarding the literature of the US Constitution.  Certainly lawyers and analysts could pour over each syllable to say that the government has no authority over education.  Maybe they don’t, but the simple possibility does not dissuade that public schools are something worth keeping.

Offline Anastasia Lockhart

There is also the point of knowledge versus facts.

I went to school in the same state almost continuously from Kindergarten to 12th Grade. I was one of the first classes to be required to take the Standards of Learning Exams to pass any grade. These tests weren't originally designed by educators, they were designed by scientists, but you were required to pass or you were held back. I had to repeat Geometry because of it, even though I was a Special Ed. Student and had TONS of accommodations for those tests. It's gotten to the point where students here aren't required to actually learn, as long as they can memorize. Teachers HAVE to teach to the test, because there's no time to cover other things.

I wound up teaching myself a whole bunch. I wanted to learn about Marie Antoinette? I got a bunch of biographies on her. I wanted to read Machiavelli? I went to the college bookstore and got two copies of The Prince (one to read, one to mark up in the margins). I even begged for a copy of "An Ideal Husband" because my Drama teacher gave me a hard-on for Oscar Wilde. I sort of regret not doing that with math and science, but I have a learning disability in quantitative and logical processing (or whatever it's called this week) and I have fought with algebra for years.

So, no, I'd probably flunk that 1895 test. But, I'd gladly go back and take any history or literature test you want.