Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

New House of Reps Site on Science, Math, & Tech Education 235

Michael Lach writes "The U. S. House of Representatives recently lauched a web site documenting recent hearings and noise about K12 science, math and tech education. Interesting comments from all sorts of big-wigs. There's a place for comments--it looks like they might actually do something on this issue at last. "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New House of Reps Site on Science, Math, & Tech Education

Comments Filter:
  • If we let 6th graders decide if they wanted to attend school or not, we'd see about a 95% dropout rate. Tell me, when you were in 6th grade, would you have rather been learning fractions or playing outside with your friends?

    And what happends to all of the "weeded-out losers"? Do they just disappear? Get sent to prison? Work at McDonalds for life? What do we do with all of the unskilled morons then?
  • Genesis 1:1 heavens and Earth
    Basically this was an opening statement, it was a quick synapsis of the whole thing, not part of the order.
    1:3 light
    1:4 darkness
    Both are stated as being basically created at the same time, then seperated. Kinda strange I guess, but this could be seen as the stars forming in the galaxy from the expanse of gasses
    1:8 Heaven again!
    1:9 Earth again!
    No not again, first time. 1:1 was synapsis remember
    1:12 plants on the land
    1:14 light again! darkness again too!
    slight rehash basically you could see the stars now from earth. and the stars where still finding their position in the sky.. things moved pretty fast after the big bang :)
    1:16 god calls the moon a light - heh heh!
    Didn't say such thing, said greater light in day lesser light in night, could be talking about star light, or whatever its really not clear, but still there is light comming from the moon, even if it is reflected. Would you say a sunroof was a "light source" I personally would
    1:20 finally sea animals, and birds
    1:24 beasts of the earth
    1:27 man finally
    yea.. that pretty much completes the cycle of evolution.. I see no problem here. Just some guy with something to prove.
  • 1) sorry, I did ramble on for what should have been a brief example - the point goes on to #2
    2) All I originally said was, that if science is not 100% sure, then it should not be "sold" as such. Philosophically speaking, the only way one can be 100% sure of something is with faith. Not science. God, of course, does not corner the market on faith. Folks are perfectly able to have 100% faith in science, but that's when science stops being science and starts being a religion. That's what I object to. I didn't say scientific method was wrong, or that there was a better method. I'm just saying that it has limitations. Less limitations than anything else, but still, has limits.
    3) please. non-issue. The point was made above in #2.
    4) No, you did not say you want to control minds, but by saying "your ideas are dangerous", and blaming the loss of human lives on them, starts to sound a little like some other friends we've heard of like Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot (and quite a few Popes too).
    You may be happy to know that I agree 100% on faith=irrational. It's good stuff, you should try it some time, but I see you already have. Best taken in small doses, with salt. Kind of like Tequilla.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • "OK, I'm going to stomp your dishonest ideas once and for all. :-)"

    Good -- start right off with an ad hominem attack. Shows scientific thought. That two people disagree does *NOT* mean one is lying, ok?

    The original poster is correct, every scientist should accept the possibility that their favorite theories may be refined or overturned. For some theories, the likelihood is small as you say, but it needs to be considered possible if science is to be more than dogma with a high probability of truth. Argue the evidence for evolution as you did quite well with that quote about speciation, but don't make generalizations about the reliability of scientific theory.

    "There's a great deal of evidence that the Christian god is fabricated out of whole cloth. Similar evidence exists for every other god described in any human culture. By induction, I can extend that evidence to a tentative statement "There is no god." "

    The existence of a god or gods is not a scientific question, unless you can frame it as a hypothesis and test it. Some of the beliefs of some religions may be disputable in this manner. To conclude that bears on the existence of gods is not logically sound. All existing religions could be completely wrong and their could still exist a god. I certainly haven't seen any papers on the subject of gods from any scientific journals.

    Like you, I don't happen to think it likely there are gods most religions would recognize as such, but I'd rather not hear people incorrectly claiming that science "disproves the existence of God". Its not true, and besides it gets the rabid creationists even more fired up. The moderate Christian you replied to is not the enemy.

    The universe is likely a stranger place than you, or I, or current science can imagine. Try not to assume you know the answers -- science doesn't.

  • >Can't single kids out for special treatment and all that.

    The problem with this is every parent wants it, and the special treatment is more causative of future success than indicative of previous success. If *any* student is pulled out for closer one-on-one work, they will do much better. Allocating those resources only for those already at the top of the class is hardly a good strategy.

    But kids definately shouldn't be bored in class. A good teacher can arrange more advanced and independent work by kids who don't need hand-holding in some subject. We would do better to train teachers in keeping all the kids engaged, than to allocate special resources for those already on top.

    What tends to happen is the rich parents insist on special treatment for their kids.
  • Only if you can roll out that wave of the future to absolutely EVERYONE, regardless of (especially) economic ability.

    As citizens, we all have a right to an equal public education whether or not we choose to take it, and if everyone can't home-school or hit the Net, and that's what they need for their equal public education, you've excluded a class of people from a public service, regardless of how well it works for the best and brightest. Not only would that be morally wrong, it would also destroy this country even more than Corporate America has already.

  • The unfortunate reality of public schooling is blatantly obvious. Children are not only NOT taught to think, more importantly they are discouraged from it. Creating free thinkers means that the children will start asking questions that teachers cannot, or are not allowed to answer.

    If we teach them to be free thinkers then they might get all sorts of crazy ideas. In all my time at public school, the concept of free thinking was never, ever raised. It's a bit like Dead Poets' Society. Not until my first year in college did any instructors mention the idea of free thinking, and only then because they knew we had never been taught to do it. It takes a long time to unlearn the crap they teach in public schools.
  • Indeed, with the possible exception of Australia, the United States is the only industrialized nation in which a significant portion of the population considers creationism to be any more credible than a flat earth.
  • "useful in any application"? What about extra-solar system navigation?
  • My oldest child entered high school for the first time recently. And apart from the clusters of parents obviously remembering what was the best years of their lives - the thing that struck me most was that 25 years after I entered high school it was still recognizable. Someone please show me an organization or institution other than a religious one that still looks, works, flows, sounds, appears and is laid out the same way now as it was a quarter century ago. I'm outraged that while the world, business, media and all of the expectations we have of our young people have all been altered into something as different from that 25 years ago as was my generation from the agrarian culture of the last century, still our schools believe and are allowed to function as if they were in some timeless glass bottle.

    It's not just the technology, it's the type and use of information that's different, it's a different way of being able to learn - at least anywhere else but school. What is important now is imparting to students the techniques and the desire and understanding of how to learn and where to go to learn it. It's the ability to quickly winnow out what's unimportant and organize a coherent idea. What's not important is the ability to write a term paper from hundreds of 3x5 index cards. On the technology front, I mean, come on, is it that abstract an idea that if you can't afford enough teachers then you group classes via video, etc. even if only in the same building? Why do we still cling to the 183 day school calendar - in rough numbers that's 1,100hrs/year class time and on a per class basis with 6 classes/day equals 183hrs/class/year or about 4.5 work weeks. Or 27 weeks total educational class time/year. Well 96% of us don't harvest crops in the summer. Does anyone wonder why US kids slide further and further back. In many countries school is considered to be a young person's job and the school week is 5.5 to 6 days or 5 days/week with longer days - ~8 hours. Is it not possible to simply extend the school year that way or - horror of horrors, make the same daily/weekly schedule 11 months long?

    And who is going to pay for all this 'radical' education? Well you are unless you want to preside over an entire generation of unmotivated, undereducated, disinterested, attention-span challenged,disorganized,job-outsourced-to-some-oth er-country, functionally illiterate duds who will be running things in about 15 years.
  • College algebra is not like HS algebra. It IS a class that is taken after Calc1 and Calc2, Vector Calc, etc.

    I can't tell you exactly what the courses consist of, but I believe it is highly theoretical. Mathematics is much more encompassing than what you can do with numbers.

    Now whether this is a class that should be required for teaching is another question...
  • Of course, cutting back on the funding will cut school budgets, and let me tell you, we need all the money we can get. But you do have a good point, so I say go for it.

    > People usually realize that there is no money in having no skills and will take some training and get a job.

    If they relized that, why would they drop out of school in the first place?

    >Before government got involved education was much better

    And when exactly was that? Not anytime too recent. Just last week in US History we learned about how New England required schools for towns with populations over 500 (or some number) back in the 1600's. So the government has controlled the education system for a long time.
    And a result of that schooling was that New England had one of the highest literacy rates in the world, much more than England or the South since school wasn't mandetory there.
  • Oh dont' get me started on my typing class last year. I tried to test out of it, but the test was so full of crap about formating that no one but the keyboard teacher cares about, that I failed. So I had to take the class. It was incredibly easy because I already know how to type, but it just wasted a semester that I could have used for something more interested. Not to mention I hated the teacher. And PE is a wasted class too. The only reason I like it is because it's a free 100 to help my GPA. But it's worthless otherwise. I'm so glad I never have to take it again.
  • When I was in high school, it was apparent to me that one of the big reasons that people didn't do well enough in math or science was standards. The level of math and science understanding that was accepted as good by both the school and the community (ie., knowing enough to get a B in a class) was obviously insufficient. I knew so many people that could get A's in math, but when they were confronted by a real problem that tested understanding, they could hardly make any progress. It was only my own intellectual curiosity that led me to learn math and science decently well. I think that if the bar is raised on what is considered an acceptable level of math and science understanding and the community emphasizes to students that getting to that level is necessary to avoid going through life looking like a moron, things would probably improve.
  • >This isn't teaching me anything after I learn how to do a few.

    Exactly! This is a huge problem. Educators are aware of this problem. You will see it in the literature as the debate between "back to basics" or "list of facts" teaching (what you're complaining about) and more inquiry based teaching methods.

    The "back to basics" movement is very political. The reason you still see this sort of trash in our schools is all about politics, not about educators.
  • There is a book which may interest you called None of the Above by David Owen. It was last printed in 1985 and I believe it is about to be reprinted this month. Fatbrain did not show it, but Amazon is taking orders.

    It's a very interesting expose of the SAT and the pseudo-science behind it. I highly recommend it to anyone who is about to take the SAT, LSAT, or any other standardized test.

  • >No social promotion,no grading on a curve

    Every parent is against social promotion until it's _their_ kid. And the problems are not generally low income kids -- social promotion is entrenched by those with the influence and power to keep it that way: the doctor's kid, the lawyer's kid, the football star, etc. All these folk are against social promotion until one of their kids fails. Then the teacher is fired, the student goes on, and the next teacher knows better than to fail someone if they want to keep their job.
  • As a product of a purely public education and a member of a family comprised largely of teachers, I feel qualified to comment on the state of our educational system.

    The only thing that is lacking from our public schools is a motivation to learn. You can not make a pupil learn when they have no desire to. Conversely, nothing can stop a student who wants to learn.

    I am a Chemical Engineer. I tested out of college calculus despite the fact that my high school calculus teacher was one of the worst I'd ever had. How? I sought help elsewhere. I got a tutor. I studied the book.

    How many of us learned to program in a classroom? Not many I'd guess. Yet, I'd stake the farm on the fact that most of us learned to program faster than we ever learned anything in school. Why? Because we wanted to. It was our own project. We did it by trial-and-error, reading a book, following other people's examples.

    It doesn't matter how you teach a child... the only thing that matters is whether or not they want to learn.

  • >Good god. That's about as bad as race norming.

    There's ample evidence that SAT scores are racially biased. In fact, there is data showing that asking someone who feels threatened as a race to fill out a racial profile before a test impacts their test score. So there's a documented direct mechanism.

    > anybody here ever read "The Bell Curve"? Interesting stuff, and it's massively documented compared to the usual PC attacks on it.

    Being documented, by itself, is not enough. And the attacks on it are not generally PC, but rather regard basic data & analysis techniques. The authors live with a delusion that you can take bad data, apply enough math, and get good results.

    Stephen J Gould has published a bit on "the bell curve" in particular, though The Mismeasure of Man refuted all of their arguments before they bothered to publish their book. New copies of "The Mismeasure of Man" include his essay speaking directly to "The Bell Curve".
  • >AFAIK, the major unions all oppose any form of merit pay

    I'm not sure that's true. Most merit pay programs that have been proposed have been based on norm reference test score results, which is a Bad Idea (tm), for all the usual reasons that norm referenced tests fail to measure anything useful.

    I would be curious to see how the unions would react to a merit scale based on something else (e.g. criterion based testing).
  • So we should be protected from witnessing prayer in a public place? So then, you would be effectively taking away certain rights to speech. If I am no longer allowed to pray to my God in public...

    The issue is not whether you are allowed to pray. This issue is whether you are allowed to force me to pray, and further to use your prayer. You're welcome to pray all you want. You're not welcome to force that view on others. Get the difference into your head.

  • Returning schools to the community will only ensure that poor communities have poor education and rich communities will have variable education.

    In most of the nation this is true anyway, even in the states that have large amounts of state control and little community control. If one day we all woke up with schools completely being run by Washington, I would suspect that the same problem would exist.

    Out of all the school districts in this country, probably only about 10% will fall into the "good" category. The rest fall into the categories of "well-funded" or "crappy."

    The 10% number is likely correct. Although funding is much more equal than one would think. For instance, here in Ohio, a state with a very severe school inquality problem, the schools which spend the most per pupil are not necessarily the best performing. (The top two districts for funding per pupil in Ohio are Cleveland and Dayton, certainly far from being the best performers. Actually, both of them are atrociously inefficient in what they do with money.) The schools that spend the least on students actually fall right into the middle of the pack perfomance wise.

    The federal government must set proper standards that are followed by all schools, regardless of where those schools are located. Schools that do not meet the standards must be improved and adequate funding must be provided.

    Schools that do not meet standards are rarely given more money, strangely, they are usually denied new grants. That is how the system works here in Ohio.

    For instance, schools will be given new grants if they meet proficiency test minimums, and a few other criteria. Richer schools hate the system, because then they have to waste time doing things they can't care less about. Poorer schools have a difficult time meeting the criteria, through no fault of their own, and forgo the grants. Schools in the middle are usually torn between the two areas. The only winners are schools who figure out the system. For instance, there is a school system that has mostly abandoned its own curriculum to teach to the proficiency tests, and make sure that they meet the state mandated criteria. They are very successful in getting the money, but they aren't really all that good.

    I would be highly surprised if the federal government could be that successful in establishing school guidelines. Ohio's constitution, written to keep as many things as possible at the local level, has turned into a complex barrier for school funding issues. The federal constitution will do the same. I can't see it succeeding, as is the case with most federal intervention.
  • my question is this:
    how many of you out there learned your skills at a public school?
  • Reactions from a 20-year-old geek who fits, well, almost all of what you described yourself as (s/guitar/bass guitar/ and s/creation/evolution):

    I. The fact that you can use Roman numerals correctly is a credit to your home-grown math skills. I know plenty of 14-year-olds who couldn't write 1-100 in Roman numerals, no matter how much time you gave. (heck, most adults I've met are the same way...)

    II. Congratulations on your schooling. I wish all children were so fortunate.

    III. My greatest lament about home schooling is that much of it is religiously funded. All of the home schooled children I have met have had grants to their families from religious organizations for purchase of textbooks and other materials. (one girl, when she was a HS freshman, showed me her biology text, which had an entire chapter on the evils of evolutionism.) While I don't begrudge you (or anyone) the right to believe what you want (even though I disagree with you on the creation thing), I wish it were possible for all persons, regardless of religious affiliation, to get equal financial assistance with home schooling. Someone in this thread I believe suggested vouchers working for home schooling. I believe that is an excellent idea, as long as, as they suggested, the vouchers be dependant on the child's passing equivelency testS. Plural. Every few years, to make sure the kid is still ahead of his "peers". Don't wait until graduation to see if the kid is being screwed over for the cash. And make sure the parent has a HS degree (for teaching an elementary/middle school age kid) or a college degree (for teaching HS age kid). Sure, it doesn't ensure that the parent is capable of teaching, but you have to have *some* measure.

    IV. I can think freely, out of the box It appears that, while being independant of government brainwashing, you may not be quite as free from corporate brainwashing. ;)

    V. Sleeping 4 am to 10 am? I'm jealous. 6 hours of sleep a night is enough for maintainance, but I need at least 8 or 9 to feel good. (were I Christian, I'd be doomed for my envy of someone I know who requires only 3-4 hours of sleep every 48 hours...think of how much more coding you could do that way...)

    VI. You mention being free to focus on what you like. Out of curiousity, what *do* you like? And how far have you gone with it? Chemistry? Physics? Calculus? If you have so much free time, and already program in four languages and seem to enjoy it, spend some of that free time looking into this stuff. You'll probably enjoy it. (though I don't know what your parents' education is like; will they be able to keep up with you when you're working on differential equations at 17?) Philosophy? Economics? Your sig file advocates Libertarianism; how much have you read on it? (not saying anything negative; just wondering how thorough your understanding is) VII. Along similar lines, you claim an ability to think freely and believe what you think is right. You also appear to hold Christian beliefs. How much have you studied other religions, or the history/background of your own? (again, I'm not flaming or even challenging. I'm merely curious as to how much inquiry went into the decision of Christianity as a personal belief system.) Thanks for sharing; I'm someone who got around many of the limitations of the US education system (with more than a little help from my parents) and I'm always interested in hearing from others who have successfully worked around the system.

  • Yes, that is a plausible compromise between the Bible's decription of creation, and the theories of evolution. Many people I know subscribe to such ideas. The people who are calling themselves "Creationists", and are trying to get Creationism taught in schools along with or instead of Evolution Theory, are saying something completely different. To summarize, from The Creation Research Society [] (one of the big organizations pushing for creationism education), Creationism consists of the following principles:
    * The Bible is the written Word of God. Genesis is simple historical truth, and should be taken literally;
    * All basic types of creatures, including man, are direct creations of God. Minor changes within those types might have occured since then;
    * Noah's flood was a historic, worldwide event;
    * Christ is the savior.

    As you can see, this agenda is pretty hard to swallow for anyone non-christian. It is also solidly outside the realm of science, and should not be taught as such, particularly not in the public schools, which are forbidden to endorse one religion over others.

    In addition, Creationists generally either assign a specific age to the earth of something between five and six thousand years old, or at least say it's no more than ten thousand years old. This flies in the face of hard observational evidence and theories of not just evolution, but physics, chemistry, astronomy and geology.

  • That's all that's needed. 1) Hold the children accountable: that is, grade them according to their knowledge. No social promotion,no grading on a curve, no welfare benefits because you screwed around from K-12. 2) Hold the teachers accountable: that is, grade them also according to their results.
  • Yes, of course. Such a simple idea. Heck, we might as well divide humanity into clearly labled catagories for these different tasks. Lessee... the educated can be called Alphas, below them the Betas, all the way down to the menial task workers that we can call Deltas...

    It'll be a brave new world... *grin*
  • from the text of this webpage:

    so which is it? does the government want to teach our children well so that they can come up with inventions like public key encryption? or would they rather ban this encryption and let other children in other countries work with such things?

    this is why our government is useless. they pull in two different directions on every issue. lets make sure we have a strong research capacity, but god forbid they are researching something we dislike.

    fucking retards.

  • My Computer Science class is covered under the Math Department, which means we get diddly squat. It's sorta funny, because everyone of the computers in there has an Ethernet card, yet they aren't networked. And this was the FIRST year of the computer club, I was amazed when I found that out because I had just moved here. So one of the first things we're going to do is network the computers together. At least those computers are running a semi-recent OS, Windows 95. In my Web Design class, there is only one computer with Windows 98, the rest are Windows 3.1. And the one's with Windows 3.1 don't have a browser, so it's a wee bit hard to check your HTML. So we have to code in Notepad, save to disk, then go over to the "powerful" computer (like a P166) and check it out in the browser. It's a huge hassle and it really sucks.
  • yeah, well, heres the quote from the webpage.

    At about the same time, an entirely different scientific discipline yielded an equally unanticipated but important discovery. Ronald Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman were engaged in research on computational complexity, a sub-discipline of theoretical computer science. Their pursuit of abstract mathematical concepts led them, however, to the foundation for public key encryption, a mathematics-based methodology that can be used to protect electronic information. Today, many years later, their discovery is felt profoundly, as encryption not only protects from prying eyes the e-mails we send, but also has made the burgeoning realm of electronic commerce viable by ensuring the confidentiality and security of internet-based financial transactions.

  • Sheesh... I never said this was all "positive" social interaction. What was said is that I learned a lot from it.

    In high school you learn that people can be horrible, and hopefully you learn to accept that, and learn how to handle it.

    You can not tell me that your life is so hunky dorry now that you never come across cruel and ignorant people.

    I did not come across many of them in college... I certainly did in highschool, and I certainly do now.... there are plenty out there!
  • Stop me if I'm wrong here, I understood the statemnet about newtons theories having almost zero percent chance of being proven wrong. But, then you continued on to say evolution also has about zero percent chance of being proven wrong.
    HEHEH.. prove it! :)
  • Or, at least, every genuine expert in the various branches of the computer industry that I know became experts through experimentation, study of source code, simply trying to do something, and reading books. You can't spoonfeed this stuff.

    That said, some of us got our introduction in formal settings, but the substantial learning was self-directed. ;)
  • You may be right about your momentum point, I certainly have no references which I can confirm either presentation of his second law, only that most schools teach the law as f=ma, not f=mv'+vm'.
    However, there are other points where Newton's laws produce incorrect results. For example, Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation does not produce correct results if the objects are moving toward or away from each other rapidly. It assumes the change in relative location would have an instant effect on the change in force, yet this is not the case. Also, while Newton's laws do explain most features of orbits, they don't predict effects such as the precession of orbits like Mercury's.
    The bottom line is, some of Newton's laws of Mechanics have been shown to be not strictly accurate. However, for most conventional applications, they are certainly accurate within the precision required, and are quite useful.

  • Well thanks for stepping up and admitting that you marked it down.

    Where did I call anyone who disagreed with me an idiot? What I called them is irrational. That's not an insulting word, but it is in fact the *most accurate* word that exists for those who believe in creationism.

    Irrational is belief without proof. That's almost the same definition that the word 'faith' has. If you have some other definition that you are going by, then you should be aware that your internal dictionary is non-standard!

    So, I take it back. It's not that you couldn't handle my opinion, it's just that you didn't UNDERSTAND my opinion.

  • so, uh... where'd _you_ learn math?

    you learn all your skills in school. you learn your specialty anywhere you can.
  • The ideas are indeed dishonest. They are not truthful. I never said that he was lying, but I did say that he was repeating ideas that are dishonest. I'm sure he believes them, and that's a good reason why the educational system needs to be overhauled. When intelligent people believe things that are wrong, there's a problem.

    I agree with your statements about scientific studies of god. There's no evidence to show that god exists, so why fabricate him?

    And finally, I wasn't calling his Christian ideas dangerous, but his complete mis-understanding of science and scientific inquiry dangerous. Come on people! We're living in 1999 and science is all around us! It's inexcusable not to have an inkling of how science works.
  • It wasn't that long ago that (literally) every single state in the Union claimed to be above-average in test scores, because they used data from different tests and years. Heh. Ah, Lake Wobegon...

    This does tie in with the possible discrepancy regarding (not that these are reliable...) SAT scores, which have, apparently, stagnated, versus grades (rising, at least considering that more high schoolers are getting straight A's.) The inflation has got to be bothering college admissions officers...

    Is social promotion still common? I was under the impression that in name, it wasn't, but that the standards tend to be sufficiently low such that de facto, it is.

    Should the schools still set the standards, or the states, or the nation? In any case, the standards could probably rise a tad; if memory serves, they have dropped considerably over this century. The third case (national control) isn't going to happen as long as the GOP controls Congress (which, of course, could end soon); and both the second and third tend to lead to teachers "teaching the test" (which is a problem anyway w/ the standardized tests).

    Then y'all run into the business about whether tests are fair and such.

    As for holding teachers accountable, speaking as a resident of PA (which has in past years had the most teacher strikes of any state in the nation...), it ain't gonna happen unless you either break the unions completely, or find additional leverage. AFAIK, the major unions all oppose any form of merit pay (be it bonuses, raises or whatever). Why lose a good thing (for them, not the students...) ?

  • People need to pay attention.
    People need to ask questions.

    Take all the "new" revelations about Waco
    in the press lately.

    Those of us that are "conspiracy nuts" have
    known this for years.

    We pay attention.
    We ask questions.
  • This might hold for private universities that get no tax dollars. But if you're getting tax money, you have an obligation to fairly represent the community.

    Which means if you're trying to measure math ability to determine admissions, you better measure math ability, not math ability + culture.

    For private institutions, it's less clear, though it would obviously be against their best interest to make the wrong measurement -- to reject those with better math skills based on a bad measurement.

    There is a free market for tests. Unfortunately they are frequently chosen for the wrong reasons, since few people actually investigate what makes a meaningful test, and instead assume that every test measures what it claims to measure.
  • Who gives a crap about Waco.

    They were stockpiling guns, military weapons.

    The gummint didn't dump gasoline all over the compound, the nutty religious zealots did.

    They broke the law and resisted arrest. If Koresh had given a rat's ass about his followers, he had ample opportunity to turn himself in and have his day in court. By taking the Jim Jones way out, he only proved that he was nothing but a lying coward, who didn't believe in the truth of what he was preaching.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • Everytime I encounter a Creationist, I see living proof that humankind definitely has a close relationship with small brained tree-swingers and knuckledraggers....

    Pat Robertson, for example. Or maybe Dan Quailye. ..
  • > Weed 'em out earlier is what I think we should do.

    Unless you propose exterminating them, too, this doesn't address the issue. They are part of our society & it is very much in our interest to get them into our economy in a productive way. Otherwise we pay for it later when they can't get jobs, etc. Bluntly, aside from it being reprehensible, we can't afford to let huge numbers of our population just slip into ignorance.

    Besides, the largest problems faced by our schools are not student disruptions. The problems have much more to do with $20 per student yearly classroom budgets, lack of teacher training, etc.

    For example, most states never train their teachers in new curriculum at the time the state adopts new curriculum. The teachers merely get this fat document dropped on their desk, having had almost no part in it development. Frequently they don't have the training to effectively apply that curriculum, or don't get what exactly it's driving at, since they had to part in making it.

    We need to invest in such training if we want curriculum documents to be more than door stops.
  • It's a dumb checklist.

    It's the same method used by PHBs to buy software, and hire engineers.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • It was not the education courses, she was willing and did take those. She did not have the right kind of MATH courses. The state required college algebra and college geometry.
    Now that's absurd. In my high school, the less-advanced students took "Senior Math Analysis" (I took it my sophomore year, having had algebra and geometry in junior high). This was an algebra/trigonometry course; the more advanced students graduated with calculus under their belts.

    A state which requires prospective teachers to take geometry and algebra at the college level implicitly expects teacher candidates to be stuck in remedial classes. Given the poor showings of ed-school applicants on all the standardized tests it isn't at all surprising that many of them might need to, but to go from there and say that they have to is shocking. If anything, those applicants who require remediation should not be allowed to enter teachers-ed programs. (BTW, what state is this, and how long ago?)

  • >We've seen how the SAT was renormalized to try to hide the fact that scores have been declining,

    Excuse me? What is this?

    The SAT is a norm referenced test. It is renormed all the time, not for any political reason, but because it is a norm referenced test.

    It's never been much use for comparing trends over time, because of this. Norm referenced tests are not static. They change all the time. The material on them changes, both to preserve the norm (by definition it must do this) and to reflect changes in the national curriculum (as it is perceived by test makers).

    Also, takers of the SAT are self-selecting, making it not even remotely appropriate for comparing different years. E.g. more people go to college, so more people take the SAT, and the average score drops (since more people with "average" skills are taking the test).
  • I am going to have to disagree with this plan of attack. Do you really want more bums on the street? What about the artists who are great at working with their hands but horrible at algebra? What about those who are great machinests but couldn't give a rip about classical literature?

    I suggest we look at more of what the Europeans, and, especially, the Germans do in their school systems. Yes, there is the notion of being kicked out after three strikes, but these school systems also start to specialize curriculums earlier in the educational system (German people, help me out here. It's been a while since high-school german classes!) If a student doesn't do well in a sholastic environment, put them in a more technical curriculum.

    In the end, the reason American schools fail, is that we are trying to teach all of the students the same thing, and so must teach the the lowest common denominator. Change that denominator by changing the curriculum, and you will see a different caliber student in no time.

  • Check out of the links available on the page like tm [] God I hope it is the result of a scanned document.
  • I think you credit them with more intelligence than they have. I don't think any of them are thinking that far in advance.

    I'm curious what evidence you have that educational standards have dropped since the 60's.
  • Actually I'm trained as a scientist and engineer, and I'm not a teacher. But I am familiar with some of the research. Whole-language is not "doodoo". You flattly don't know what you're talking about. How about some evidence? You might start with Kapan for some reviews of the research supporting it. You have no idea what's been going on in classrooms. Modern theories (as derived from data, rather than assumption) have not been widely adopted. Putting it in the curriculum document doesn't mean it has been implemented. Social promotion is not generally something supported by educators, but supported by rich parents who won't stand to have johnny fail. And what is your beef with outcome based success? Being outcome based precisely means that the student is held to a well defined standard! It precisely means that educators have to be able to measure how effective their teaching is. It means you have to define terms like "mastery" when you use them in your curriculum document, so that they have definate meanings & can't be glossed over. For example in a writing curriculum you might define mastery as being able to compose a well structured paragraph based on criteria you define in the document. When you test the students they have to actually write such a paragraph. In contrast the standardized testing paradigm (which is in fact implemented this way in California) is to have a bubble test where the students *NEVER* actually write a paragraph. Instead they fill in bubble questions about a paragraph -- a task which doesn't even use the same part of the brain as composition.
  • Unfortunately this is a very political issue, so even though we might agree that scientific methods are the way to approach this, not everyone agrees to this.

    Particularly contentious is the difference between inquiry based learning and rote memorization. All evidence points to inquiry based methods being the most effective, since they are about understanding the basis of knowledge, rather than memorizing results without knowing what they are based on.

    But when kids start asking questions, you suddenly have to field questions like "What is the evidence for God?" "What is the evidence for the creation story?" "What is the basis of our belief?"

    Systems of belief which rely on there being one immutable literal interpretation of a text are necessarily hostile to methods of teaching which encourage students to challenge, reinterpret, and understand the basis of what they are taught -- even when those methods are demonstrably more effective.

    In short, to convince people to use the results of research, you must also address the threat you are making to their belief system.
  • Creationism should not be part of a science class because it is not a scientific theory.

    When I was in 8th grade, my science teacher presented a theory on how a Coke machine worked: inside was a little man whose job was to count the money you put in, get the right can, drop down the can, and give you any change. He then asked us to disprove this, without actually looking inside of a Coke machine. I don't think anyone in the class was able to disprove the hypothesis. (sample argument: "There aren't enough midgets in the world to put into all the Coke machines!" The reply: "the reason you don't see many midgets is BECAUSE they're all inside Coke machines.")

    What did this teach us (besides the fact that our science teacher was a wise ass)? We learned that scientific hypothesis are based on OBSERVING phenomena and selecting the theories that best fit the existing data.

    Now, I could easily see a science teacher presenting two opposing theories of creation: the one in Genesis, and the evolutionary one. After giving the students ALL of the evidence, let them decide which one works and defend their opinion in a reasoned paper. If they want to believe in Genesis, they're going to have to find a way to explain a lot of data which indicates that it is a poor theory. If Creationists are going to pretend that what they believe in is science, they're going to have to use the scientific method to back up their hypothesis. Likewise, if someone has silly reasons why evolution works, I wouldn't give them a very good grade.

    Simply telling a bunch of students "Evolution is true, Creationism is false" just replaces one idol with another. Teaching students WHY Evolution/Big Bang/etc. best fits the data is far more important that rote recitation.


  • ...and further to use your prayer.
    To use my prayer? What were you thinking?
    If I feel that my praying helps me and I use it to further myself in various ways, how is it harming any one else to witness this?

    You're not welcome to force that view on others
    By praying in front of others I am not forcing them to then pray. You are confused.

    Not teaching evolution as a fact is the correct thing to do as is not teaching creation as fact. For neither of them can be substantially proven as fact and both simple beliefs.
    Get the difference into your head.
  • Since in many countries outside the US, Darwinist evolution is not accepted any longer...

    Unsupported assertion. Documentation, please.

  • When it comes to AP and honors classes, of course people in them are going to do well. That is because the people in them are the smartest in the school. But the problem with our schools is that people can actually get a high school diploma with only 1 algebra class in there entire life. You could go all the way to AP Calculus and AP Physics, and you would get the same degree as someone who only got through Algebra I B and Biology B. (B - basic) And since tests such as the ACT and SAT are so easy that almost anyone can get a 19 and 1100, almost anyone can get into most colleges. Once in college you can get a bachelors degree without taking any calculus classes at all. Also, by taking an introductory Biology and maybe a Geology class you can get by without any in depth science courses.

    The point of all this is that while you still can learn alot in our school system, it doesnt force you to. You can get a 4-year degree without learning much math or science. This makes a general populace that doesnt have the ability to make educated decisions in most fields of technology.
  • I agree that comparing SAT scores from year to year is inappropriate. The problem is that school boards, governments, and the press like to do it.

    At least once a year, you can find an "SAT average scores are up/down this year" story. Governments and school boards love to use year-to-year comparisons:

    1) SAT scores are down. We need more money.
    2) SAT scores are up. We're doing a good job.

    Would a ten-year downward trend in SAT scores really mean that students were getting stupid? If we assume that today's students are the beneficies of 20 years of progress in education (dangerous assumption), then the trend in SAT scores for the last 20 years should generally be UP. Realistically, the test will be "adjusted" before this trend ever shows up.

    We put WAY too much emphasis on this silly, subjective bubble-coloring test.
  • i guess we can assume you didn't get harassed on a daily basis, then. what you may call social skills i call brainwashing and herd mentality. all it takes is one "popular" kid to hate another one, and they're toast. i don't follow that. i don't know where people learn to be so cruel, but i usually start pointing my finger at a) human nature and b) school.

    then again, i'm a proud mississippi public school system dropout. saving myself three years i would have wasted in HS and going to college instead was worth INFINITELY more than any so-called social skills i could have potentially developed. personally, i am glad i am not an overtly cruel or herd-minded person.
  • First of all, the understanding of evolution has gone way beyond what Darwin ever thought of, so labelling it as 'Darwinian evolution' is somewhat bogus.

    Science is an attempt, through a rigorous process, to come up with explanations that are consistent with what we observe. In regards to what is called the 'theory of evolution', this theory (actually an entire collection of theories) does a vastly better job of explaining the facts we observe than anything else that has been presented. Evolution is not a 'misguided view of science', as you assert. Instead, it is one of the most comprehensive applications of the scientific method we have. That it disagrees with your view of the universe is not a problem of science; rather it's a problem of your view of the universe.

    If you don't like what the theory of eveolution has to say about the history of man, then you are perfectly welcome to construct alternate theories. However, you have to explain all the observed facts. Creationism has attempted to do this, with poor success.

    Go ahead - take your shot.

  • So the cure is what? "Phat" is to "bad" as "gnarly" is to _____? At some point you have to say that everyone has an obligation to go out and get the culture they don't have, and get over the fact that a bunch of dead white men brought it to its pinnacle in their language and their culture.

    I take it that you speak the Queen's English, right? Ever put something in the boot of your lorry? Ever lit up a fag?

    How about AU English and culture? Do you know what Vegemite is?

    Oh, I see. YOUR version of English is the norm, and your cultural experiences are the baseline. Makes sense to me. You're a bigot.

    The fact is that standardized tests are useless. They don't measure anything at all. Trust me, I speak as someone who scores exceedingly well on them. I got a 1400 (700 Math, 700 Verbal) on the SAT, before they were re-leveled. I entered College with 19 credits, because I got 4s and 5s on AP Tests in Computer Science, Physics, English, US History, Calculus (well, only a 3 on Calc), and Chemistry. I missed only one or two questions on the general GRE (that covers the math, logic, and English sections) and placed in the 89th percentile on the Computer Science GRE. When it comes to filling in stupid circles on a test, I rock.

    Meanwhile, one of my closest friends from college did only decently on the SATs (about 300-400 points worse than me) and had to take "bonehead English" in college because she failed the writing exam (she did have a 5 on her AP English test, though. One test shows she's a genius, the other says she's an idiot. Explain that one, standardized test boy.). I also did significantly better than her on the general GRE. Well, she's gotten straight As since _6th_ grade, and is now about to finish up her PhD in BioMedical Engineering, doing things that I can't even begin to understand. Post-doc offers are already coming in for her. Me? I couldn't hack grad school in CS and left with a Master's.

    Today's lesson: standardized tests are useless and only measure one thing: how good are you at taking tests? If you think the sole goal of life is filling in circles labeled A-E with a #2 pencil, you're in for a bit of a shock...


  • Yes, true, but when science is taught as dogma, pursuit of the truth is also in jeopardy.

    A scientist should alway have an open mind that even their most beloved and trusted theories may one day be proven false, or be replaced by another theory. And NO scientist should support any theory for which there is no evidence. (is there any evidence at all that there is definately NO god?).
    If you can't disprove His existence, then shut the hell up and leave those of who DO believe alone. And don't blame ALL believers for the few zealots who try to force nonbelievers to believe. Some of us just don't give a rat's ass who doesn't believe.

    And yes, I do want my children taught about evolution in school. I just don't want the teacher to say that Darwin's evolution is the only possible explanation, and that it proves that there is no god, because neither of those assertions are true.

    On the other hand, I sure as hell don't want my tax dollars going to pay to educate my child for someone else's version of biblical creation. My church is perfectly capable of conveying that story.
    So again, I don't understand why honesty can't be brought back into the science classroom (um, class, it's a THEORY - it's the best one we have today, not the only one, just the best one, it may not be true, but "officially" this is what we're going with), and I can't understand why some folks think religion has any business being taught in public schools.

    Gosh, I guess I'm just too level-headed to be a true American.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • I actually kind of agree with this. But instead of simply letting them walk out of school, you give them a choice: school or work. There's plenty of menial labor that needs to be done. We've got all those thousands of miles of highway that needs the trash picked up. Millions of miles of city streets that need to be swept. And I think you should allow them to go back to school at the beginning of the next school year (or semester - might make more sense that way) than to just kick em out forever.

    I think alot of people need time to really appreciate an education. Now we have people who are forced to sit though twelve years of school and get nothing or almost nothing out of it. This way, they have a choice. I'm sure most people would spend that year pushing a damn broom and get the idea really quickly that school is for them.
  • Ahhhhh! This is more of the problem with education in this country. Returning schools to the community will only ensure that poor communities have poor education and rich communities will have variable education. Are you rich? Well you can afford to move to a school district that will at least have a lot of money for education. Whether the school is any good is a whole separate issue. If you're not rich, then you will have to blame your own tough luck and quit whining. Are you well educated? Well, if you want your children to have a shot at also being well educated, you need to do two things: get rich, and move to a school district that provides good education, with enough funding. Out of all the school districts in this country, probably only about 10% will fall into the "good" category. The rest fall into the categories of "well-funded" or "crappy." The federal government must set proper standards that are followed by all schools, regardless of where those schools are located. Schools that do not meet the standards must be improved and adequate funding must be provided.

    To cap my point off, I am confident that if I start a school where students will learn that the Earth is in the midst of a battle between warring alien races, then I will have many many students. But, it should be illegal for me to even start such a school.

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Thursday September 02, 1999 @09:20AM (#1709116) Homepage Journal
    If you can lead it to water and make it drink, it isn't a horse. (Or so says the fortune cookie program. :)

    IMHO, education is going in entirely the wrong direction, in a lot of ways.

    Firstly, people aren't tape recorders or parrots. So, any system which teaches that way of thinking is inherently flawed. How to test for this? Well, if a computer, using only a fixed database of facts, can score above average in an exam, there's a problem.

    The human mind isn't built to store things "precicely", but it IS geared to process that data in creative ways, using lateral thinking. It's also very good at logical thinking, but that's not it's strong point.

    When you teach people, and award marks, in a way that tries to make the brain do something it's not built for, you are BOUND to teach less than you could, and retention is BOUND to be poor.

    Secondly, people who have exceptional ability in a given area are often neglected, giving rise to bored, aggitated kids, who will undoubtably be disciplined for responding to that neglect, which leads on to a whole cycle of abuse/neglect from teachers, and reactions from the kid. Often, such kids are the ones who do worst at school, and become effectively rejects in society. For the horrible crime of being smart.

    Those exceptional kids who aren't neglected are often over-pressured into doing well. Such kids often burn out quickly, and make up a sizable fraction of university suicides.

    Average kids are also pressured to "succeed", at any cost (including their own physical and mental health, their social development, their peace of mind, their own likes and dislikes, their friendships and virtually everything else that is important to a kid or for a kid.) Those who rebel will end up without the scraps of paper they need to get a job that pays well enough to cover the rent. Those who don't will probably end up in AA, a psychiatrist's couch. Or both.

    It seems to me that an educational system that teaches fundamentally flawed materials and inherently damaging principals has got to need some serious revision.

    I doubt either House will ever do anything, any more than the British have. (The best the British have managed, in the past few hundred years, are a few feeble, misguided gestures. GCSE's should be shot, for a start.)

    Science needs to be taught in schools in a way that helps kids understand it, not turn half of them into axe-wielding luddite technophones and the other half's brains into blue/green jello. And for chrissakes, can SOMEBODY put a globe in the geograhy classes!! England is NOT off the coast of Florida!

  • The government can do whatever it wants to the school system and it won't make a lick of difference. Allow me to explain. I was raised by two loving parents who took great interest in my education, in an affluent district in the suburbs. I am a sparkling example of the possible success of the public school system; I scored perfect on the SAT's and ACT's, I took college courses in math for two years, etc. And I believe that my success is due not only to inborn ability and good teaching, but also to the devotion of my parents. Why I say the government can't do anything, is, my mother teaches in Detroit. 2nd grade. And most of these kids in the inner city can't even recognize their letters in 2nd grade. Some don't even know colors yet. And it's not because they're necessarily dumb; it's because their parents never spent time with them, never taught them anything they needed to know. What the government needs to do is to fund education for inner-city parents, on parenting. This would raise the education levels of children when they come into school, and therefore raise the effectiveness of the schools. The other thing that government can do is to stop basing funding on standardized tests. Does it make sense to cut funding to a school because its students scored low on their MEAP's? No! Cutting supplies to these schools only lowers their effectiveness. So with the government working the way it currently is, it won't be able to get anything done.
  • Good scientific practice is to look at and consider all alternatives. Of course, who is to say that a god created the universe and painted a fresco at that point in time to make it look like man evolved from apes?
  • Time for home schooling?

  • LOL, ... nicely said.
  • As for creationism: notice that it's called the "theory of natural selection", the "THEORY of evlotuion". Do I need to explain the difference between scientific theory and scientific law to you?

    All this shows is that you do not know how scientists use the word 'theory'. This invalidates the rest of your argument. to advocate evolution but not the (self-evident) fact that God created the universe.

    The problem is that it's not self-evident. There lots of indications otherwise.

    When the government proposes to prohibit me from praying in a given place, it is establishing a religion: atheism.

    I advise you to check a dictionary. A word that expressly means the absence of religion is only defined as a religion by those people who want to impose their religion on others. (Yes, I know that's deliberately provocative.)

    The creationist view is a view that belongs only to one particular religion. To give that view a special place is to promote that particular religion, in a place that should be religion-neutral. But it's funny that the fundamentalist Christians are the only people who complain when they aren't allowed to impose their religious views.

  • odysseus complex wrote:

    Good scientific practice is to look at and consider all alternatives.

    No, that's good philosophy, has nothing at all to do with science. Good science is to follow the scientific method. That is:
    * look at and consider all appropriate observational evidence,
    * formulate a hypothesis based on the evidence,
    * and attempt to disprove the hypothesis by applying more observational evidence to it.
    If you fail to disprove it, you show it to your peers, if they fail to disprove it, you can call it a theory. After it's been around a while, you get to teach the theory in science classes.

    Creationism, while an important belief for many, just isn't science. It isn't a hypothesis based on observational evidence, it is based on religious faith. There has been no attempt by it's supporters to disprove it scientifically, and when scientists do so, they are ignored or even insulted. It isn't science, it has no place in science class. It is religion, it has no place in an organization (such as a public school) covered by the Establishment Clause of the Bill of Rights.

  • Not a bad idea... but don't just let the losers go... that would only raise crime and mortality among that age group. What should happen to those who elect to drop out should be some sort of reform program to scare them back into school... show them what their life will be like without an education... working dead-end jobs or turning to crime should not be made an option. Just because a kid doesn't take an interest in his/her future in 6th grade or whatever, doesn't mean he/she can't be made to think about it.
  • Suppose I ask you to recite the verses from the Illiad. Fine. Then, let's say in the meantime, I'm loading a Kalashnikov and frequently calibrating its sights while aiming straight towards you, and occasionally firing long bursts right past your face... is that going to impact your performance? Probably, even if you're absolutely sure that I'm not really going to shoot you. Does it mean that reciting the epics under more normal circumstances is somehow a broken test? Now, if the gun isn't there but you still feel threatened by me anyway, is the test therefore broken? Obviously not.

    Is chess biased towards, say, Russians? Obviously not; yet you'll find a pretty large number of Russians among the (modern and historical) top chess players of the world. That means you have to ask why... In the same way, absolutely nothing says that the academic performance among people of all ethnicities is equal, and that the SAT should confirm that. To claim that failure to show this -- instead of asking whether performance is the same -- is a flaw with the test, is as silly as believing that the SAT is a perfectly valid indicator of college success or that it is a massive factor in admissions, when neither is truly the case. In regards to the former, assorted studies have shown that the linkage is not clear-cut; as for the latter, it is just a single factor and not one for prospective collegians to obsess about.
  • It's really just a question of fundamentallists, who argue that the bible is 100% pure, accurate, the word of God, unaltered, the truth, no questions asked.

    Now, to reconcile that belief, they need to crowbar reality into that mold. Unfortunately, the rest of us have to be dragged kicking and screaming along with them.

    Then there's the poor fallibists, who believe in God, but have reservations about the whole validity of the bible. Faith-wise, that is a slippery slope indeed, because you lose a material connection to God, which is supposed to be an anchor for your faith, and is instead, being used as a crutch. Us fallibists (or Christian Liberals) are caught in the middle, being perceived as zealots when we admit that we believe in God, or want our kids to learn creationism (in church, not public school), or even that we'd prefer it if evolution not be portrayed as some absolute unchangeable truth.

    The fundamentallist zealots hate us, and the athiest secular humanists hate us.

    There's an excellent article in this month's Scientific American on this topic.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • OK, I'm going to stomp your dishonest ideas once and for all. :-)

    You say:
    -->"A scientist should alway have an open mind that even their most beloved and trusted theories may one day be proven false"

    Evolution is a scientific theory. The definition of theory is much stronger in science than it is in conventional use. Newton's theory is used to guide spacecraft to Saturn. The theory works, and is accepted and proven to be a truthful description of how the universe works. There is no way that Newton's theory will ever be falsified. Not even Einstein's theory did that!

    Likewise, evolution is a scientific theory, but it has been shown and observed to be a true representation of how life evolved on this planet.

    Here's a quote and a reference for you. I expect you to look it up. It says nothing less than evolution has been observed in the laboratory to cause speciation. Evolution is a confirmed theory.

    4.11: No one has ever seen one species arise from another. In 1964, Dr. D.J. Reish removed 5 or 6 polychaetes (Nereis acuminata) from Los Angeles/Long Beach harbor, and grew his sample to a size of thousands. In 1986, four pairs from this group were brought to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; the population at Woods Hole thus had gone through two bottlenecks, which are supposed to help drive evolution through genetic drift. In 1977-1978, two new cultures of N. acuminata were gathered from nearby Long Beach and Newport Beach, and grown under the same conditions as the Woods Hole sample. The three populations were later crossed, and it was found that the only crosses that would not produce viable offspring were the crosses involving Woods Hole and the two new cultures. This signifies nothing less than speciation, and all in the laboratory - all observed directly (Weinberg et al., 1992).

    -->"there is no evidence. (is there any evidence at all that there is definately NO god?). "

    There's a great deal of evidence that the Christian god is fabricated out of whole cloth. Similar evidence exists for every other god described in any human culture. By induction, I can extend that evidence to a tentative statement "There is no god."

    -->"If you can't disprove His existence, then shut the hell up and leave those of who DO believe alone."

    I will not and cannot shut up. Your ideas are dangerous because anyone who believes your notions of what science is and what a scientific theory consists of is trodding down the path of ignorance. That costs actual human lives!

  • Hmm...A 14 year old nerd (?geek?) who programs 4 languages, believes creation and Plate Tectonics (at the same time), plays guitar (in a band), has a girlfriend and still has a few hours of free time a day?

    Instead of having 8 (something like that) hours of school a day, I get most of my work done in about .5 hours, skip what I already know and still get a 99 (out of 99) on standardized tests. I homeschool.

    It kicks public (and private) schools a$$:

    I: I can focus on what I like.

    II: I can skip what I already know.

    III: I can do it as fast as I like.

    IV: I have a huge amount of free time.

    V: I can program a few hours a day (and count
    that as part of my school).

    VI: I don't have to worry about what people think about me (not that I would anyway :-)).

    VII: I never get in fights.

    VIII: I can think freely, out of the box (not how our government wants us to think!!!).

    IX: Free Speech!!!

    X: Lunch is usually pretty good.

    XI: I can go to bed at 4:00.

    XII: I can wake up at 10:00.

    XIII: I can believe in what I think is right.

    These are the reasons that I goto a better school then most of you!!!

    That's my 1/50 of $1.00 US
    Big Brother is watching, vote Libertarian!!
  • One of the critical things that we must do is defend schools against such things as public prayer, religion, and especially creationism.

    I sincerely hope that you are being sarcastic here. If you are, apply the remarks below to whomever moderated this post up!

    First, let's look at the public prayer issue. The restriction on prayer in schools is absurd. When the government proposes to prohibit me from praying in a given place, it is establishing a religion: atheism. This is exactly the kind of thing the founding fathers were trying to prevent. Realize that prayer in public schools doesn't just prohibit teachers leading prayers: it often is interpreted to prohibit students from praying! Not from praying outloud, or leading prayers: simply from PRAYING. This is so unconstitutional that it's unbelievable. Even worse, it is a command to which Christians can respond only with civil disobedience.

    As for creationism: notice that it's called the "theory of natural selection", the "THEORY of evlotuion". Do I need to explain the difference between scientific theory and scientific law to you?

    You seem to be of the stripe that believes in total freedom to be anything but a Christian. That is, I am free to advocate pedophilia, but not free to advocate monogamy; free to advocate evolution but not the (self-evident) fact that God created the universe.

    This is so hypocritical it is sickening. as it so happens, I personally do subscribe tyo neither natural selection nor creationism. I think that "divinely inspired evolution" is the most accurate. However, I strongly uphold the rights of those who beliefve in both creationism and natural selection to be heard in any and every forum. This is freedom.

    You want freedom: great! I give it to you freely. But your freedom does not include:

    1. Making my kids learn lies. (Your kids are your problem)
    2. Keeping me from speaking my mind.
    3. Restricting my freedom to indulge my religious conscience except in cases where it substantially and materially harms another human being. Note that emotional trauma caused by realizing that most people are pretty scummy doesn't count as material harm.
    You Sir, appear to be a Damned Modern Liberal (no, in this context I'm not cursing -- the damned is literal). You have the freedom to initiate a witch-hunt against anyone who doesn't agree with your opinions. I am a classical Liberal. You have the freedom to say what you like. I have the freedom to call you an idiot. I am now doing so.
  • OK, let's get down to the basics - what portion of time is spent actively learning as compared with other recreational/consumerism activities?

    If you gave a teenager the choice between reading a book or playing video games, what would be their response?

    Would your kids rather watch Discovery Channel or go out on a field trip in the rain?

    Is the role of schools to include social and vocational aspects? If not, then what is the role of teachers as compared with parent?

    Would kids prefer to emulate Einstein or Michaal Jordan? Do they know the difference between fame and celebrity?

    Given the many leisure activities available to people, what motivating force would encourage them to tackle the hard subjects?

    And by the way, these problems are not unique. Even Japan are finding their educational system is starting to creak. It is easy to handle outrages like high school shootings but slow erosion of standards and educational values are much more difficult to solve.

  • Hmmm. If memory serves, some European nations do something that approaches this.

    On the basis of examinations, students can get shunted towards academic pursuits (that is, a funded college education); specialized, vocational training; or possibly entering straight into the workforce... The thing is, they do not seem to share the attitude that everybody can, and probably should, go to at least some academic college if they only try.
  • And as a teacher you should consider it part of your job to help develop that "motivation to learn".
  • Hmmm.

    Maybe the "voucher system" should extend to home-schooling -- if a parent wants to stay home and teach, they get the voucher(s).

    (And if, upon reaching 18 or so, the kid(s) can't pass a high-school equivalency test, the parent has to pay the money back into the system.)
  • "Newton's theory is used to guide spacecraft to Saturn. The theory works, and is
    accepted and proven to be a truthful description of how the universe works. There is no way that
    Newton's theory will ever be falsified. Not even Einstein's theory did that! "

    come now, come now, Newton's theory doesn't apply on the quantum scale now, does it? There have even been measurements made of spacecraft (travelling BEYOND Saturn *snicker*) showing object accellerating faster than they ought to be. There are some theories for why this is happening, but I think there hasn't been a consensus yet on what's going on. The fact is, we don't know. Nobody is out there looking at these space probes, seeing if there is a tiny propellant leak, or whatever. I'm not saying Newtons theories are false, they're great, and they've proven to be about the most useful tools mankind has ever devised.

    Likewise, no human was alive 65 million years ago, to SEE dinosaurs walk the earth. What we accept as truth, is what we rationalize. True, science is the best systematic way to rationalize our reality based on our observations, but the fact is, no matter what is observed, no matter what evidence you have, you can't possibly know any thing 100% for sure. It's a philosophical question, yes, but that is the root of human experience.

    And I would likewise tell you that if God himself came down in front of me and said, "Yo, dude, you got a buger hanging out of your nose", I still, scientifically can't say that I 100% believe in God, because it could have been a hallucination, right? Even if I DID have a buger hanging out of my nose.
    But spiritually, I DO believe that God exists, because I take that on faith, which is not a rationalization based on the scientific method, nor is it some lame sense of obligation to parents or religious leaders. It is NOT my faith (or anyone's faith) in God that endangers or costs humans their lives, it's when I justify certain actions based on this faith: I must kill you and invade your country because you are infidels. Well, let me tell you, even the officially "atheist" countries out there have killed folks based on ideology, or what usually turns out to be a personal lust for power justified by a framework of rationalizations. Whether this framework of rationalizations is the Catholic religion, or Godless communism, it's still all a sham. Does that make the FAITH wrong? No, it makes the ACTIONS of killing (or whatever you're trying to assert) wrong. Faith isn't the problem, it's human greed, and human selfishness, and these things will never go away, no matter what dictator comes along with weapons of mass destruction, and chemicals and mass hypnosis - humans will always be the way they are, of course until they destroy themselves.

    By induction, you extend your evidence to a tentative statement "There is no god". Well, be as tentative as you like. I'm sorry that you can't have 100% faith in the truth of a matter. But when you rely on science, that is going to be the case, 100% of the time, because that's what science is all about, and thankfully, you state it truthfully by saying "tentative statement" (and by saying "by induction" - which is a method that, by nature, cannot 100% prove something, only deduction can).

    Personally, I'm more comfortable making the the DEFINATE statement "I believe there IS a God". Existance just feels better for me that way. Not because of my comfort about (how did someone put this a couple of days back?) "being whisked away to some fantasyland after I die". But rather, that there's a reason for it all, that it's not all just some cosmic accident that may as well not have happened at all.

    Ideas don't kill people. People kill people. When you start saying that ideas are dangerous (and I know, yes, it was religious people who first made this kind of thing popular), then you start saying you want to control people's minds. I don't know about you, but mind control makes me kind of uncomfortable.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • There's ample evidence that SAT scores are racially biased.
    Dunno about racial bias (is there a box that says, "What color is your skin?"), but cultural bias in standardized tests is, I think, pretty well documented. I recall two examples:
    • An "X is to Y as Z is to what?" type question where one of the pairs was "regatta" and "boat". Sure, inner city kids get out to regattas all the time, right?
    • "Buttercups." If you live in the 'burbs or the country, you know that these are little yellow flowers. In the concrete jungle, though, one tends not to see many flowers, and even a smart kid might think that a "buttercup" is a cup full of butter.
    Some wise fellow once observed that if an Australian aborigine drafted an IQ test, most of Western civilization would flunk it. ("Sheesh, these stupid white guys can't even tell kangaroo tracks from wombat ones!")
  • >nothing says that the academic performance among people of all ethnicities is equal, and that the SAT should confirm that

    I wasn't arguing for that. Rather, that there is the result I already mentioned, and other results from norm referenced testing suggesting cultural biases unrelated to the material supposedly being tested. We hope the test measures mastery of a subject. However as far as we can tell it measures culture as well.

    When all of this norm referenced testing started, it was generally held that cultural influences would overwhelm any comparisons outside a single classroom. Today we commonly assume that we can use it to meaningfully compare students in different countries, without, however, any evidence that this is true.

    The assumption has changed, the data hasn't.

    The claim that test results are vaild within a single classroom is much more well-grounded, because it eliminates a huge number of variables. Likewise, it is much more well-grounded to use the results within a single ethnic group than between them.

    In the absence of evidence, prudence in interpreting tests results is called for.

    >it is just a single factor and not one for prospective collegians to obsess about.

    I agree completely.
  • Some quick points.

    There is no way that Newton's theory will ever be falsified. Not even Einstein's theory did that!

    According to Newton's theories (he did have more than one theory, you know), as long as you apply a constant force to an object, its velocity will increase according to the simple equation F=ma, indefinately. Einstein's theories show that to be patently false. Newton's theories of mechanics are known to be incorrect, but are still taught because they are an excellent approximation of what will happen during most student's experiences, they are easier to calculate, and they are easier to comprehend. A good science teacher will make sure students know that they are just approximations.

    If you are going to argue loudly on behalf of science, make sure you've got your science straight first.

    Your speciation example is much better. It shows that the theories of evolution have continued to hold up under new and different observation, confirming the theory.

    Note that no reputable scientist would say "This is the one and only truth of the universe". Scientific theory is merely the best ideas we have right now of how the world works. Theories last until a better idea comes along. Scientifically speaking, Creationism is not a better idea than Evolution, it doesn't hold up to vast amounts of observational evidence in biology, geology, physics and more. While I agree with you here, make sure you don't get too dogmatic about scientific theory, or you are in as bad shape as the Creationists are.

    There's a great deal of evidence that the Christian god is fabricated out of whole cloth.
    I would be very curious to be shown such evidence. And I mean observational evidence, not historical anecdotes. To my knowledge there is no credible evidence that there is or is not a god, Christian or otherwise. Religious belief must (and should) be based upon faith, not evidence. They shouldn't tell scientists what science is, scientists shouldn't tell them what god is or isn't. It's like comparing apples and oranges.

  • Since it seems worthwhile to offer the perspective from which one posts:

    I did well enough in public schools (despite having the aforementioned curse of being smart/neglected/'dealt' with) to win a commission to West Point, which I promptly lost in a year and a half due to an inability to keep my shoes shined, my closet dusted, or my belt buckle clean. I now do web development.

    In Oregon, educational quality is of deepest concern to me and to many of my fellow citizens. Oregon has all the telltale signs: the funding inequality, the bad relationship with teachers unions, the axe falling on extra-curriculars, near-condemnable buildings, and all the other trimmings of your average American educational crisis.

    I believe there's a break-even amount of funding that will keep schools at the status quo, and as long as Republicans control our Legislature, we will never get that amount; OTOH, my state has thrown money at the problems in all kinds of ways, and it hasn't solved much of anything, which would explain why our Republican Legislature is reluctant to fund our schools.

    That is why I suggest a complete public audit for every educational system in our public schools, to at least determine 1) why our $ isn't solving as many problems as we'd like it to and 2) what else is in the way of youth getting quality educations.

    I don't have any predispositions about what I think such an audit would find; I just want to know what they come up with.

    Were I to walk into a school or a school board meeting myself and start asking hard questions, there are several good reasons why I don't think I'd get honest, satisfactory answers. But I believe in the scariness and intelligence of people who interrogate for a living, and know where to look. An audit would allow all of us to use the same people to set a baseline for the condition of our schools, with real empirical data, so that we'd have a basis in fact.

    This would be a more valuable use of the Fed's money, I think. We can't really come together to find good solutions until we're on the same page with regard to how things are.
  • Yes, I have had a lit fag in my mouth and I'm still less of a pervert than the President.

    Actually, that is exactly what I am getting at. I think people should be free to take the Dead White European Man SAT or the Autralian Aborigine SAT or the Touchy-Feely SAT and universities and employers should be free to pick which one they think best predicts performance. None will optimally predict performance, and I never claimed they would.

    I am advocating freedom to choose: Freedom to choose your type of education (including the freedom to take your fair share of public support for education with you). Freedom to choose how you present your potential and your achievement. Freedom for people to interpret your choices.

    I also, in an earlier post, made the point that tests don't have to be perfect in order to have predictive power. There are many interesting stories in test design. One of my favorites is about a test to select sewing machine operators. They tested dexterity, ability to concentrate, etc. and found that the strongest predictive test was putting the operators on a scale. Ones weighing more than 240# were best. This is obviously not a perfect test, and you will miss some great skinny sewing machine operators. But if you have a room with 200 sewing machines, your best bet is to fill it with fat people.

    The point is, you have to align your tests with your goals. Not everyone's goals are the same, so a diversity of tests and freedom of choice in all aspects of eductaion and testing would be best.

  • This is an interesting suggestion, but flawed. It follows the "good government" line of reasoning. If you apply enough of the right systems, government will perform well. Sounds good, and it's the right thing to do when you have no other course of action. But it does not address the fact that every serious fraud that occurred in the private sector in a publicly traded company occurred under the noses of auditors. That's why we have SEC filing rules, and an open market in equities. If a company smells bad, you can dump it before the auditors call in the FBI (which almost never happens).

    This is why, above a certain level (that is probably about half what we have today, maybe less), no matter how good your systems, audits, reports, etc. are, you will get large amounts of inefficiency and corruption in government. You have to cut the total size of the problem down. You have to enable people to make choices themselves. And then you focus on optimizing what is left. In this case, if you have choice in education, there will be less of a public school bureaucracy to obfuscate things for you, and you will stand a much better chance of being listened to in the fora that enable input into publicly operated schools.

  • a well known one

    >>There is no way that Newton's theory will ever be falsified. Not even Einstein's theory did that!

    >According to Newton's theories (he did have more
    >than one theory, you know), as long as you apply
    >a constant force to an object, its velocity will
    >increase according to the simple equation F=ma,
    >indefinately. Einstein's theories show that to be
    >patently false. Newton's theories of mechanics are
    >known to be incorrect, but are still taught
    >because they are an excellent approximation of
    >what will happen during most student's
    experiences, they are easier to calculate, and
    >they are easier to comprehend. A good science
    >teacher will make sure students know that they
    >are just approximations.

    In the first of his famous Cal Tech undergrad
    lectures his gives the example (paraphrasing)

    "It was once believed that winged angels
    pushed the planets across the skies. This
    theory has since been MODIFIED. [general laughing]
    It turns out the angels must push inwards
    and do not have wings."

    A theory that is correct 99% of the time is
    typically incomplete, not incorrect. You add
    a little squiggle at the end of the calculation
    (special relativity) and you make it more complete.
  • I was disapointed in the witness lists. I did not see anyone out side of the education industry. After many years of being a practicing chemical engineer my wife decided to give something back and start teaching middle school math science. With a masters in ChemE you would think that she could get licienced, but not so. It was not the education courses, she was willing and did take those. She did not have the right kind of MATH courses. The state required college algebra and college geometry. Calculas, and engineering ecconomics were not good enough.

    I do not see anyone in the witness list to give me hope that the closed education industry will change.
  • Yesterday's paper USA Today cover story was about the new plan for grading SAT's on a curve. A student would get extra points for "striving" if that student came from a school where scores were lower or somesuch. (I couldn't find the article on their web site via their search. Anyone have a link?)
  • Do away with mandatory schooling.

    Starting around 6th grade, kids that don't want to be in school should be allowed to leave so that those who want to be there won't be held back. If a student is a disruption to the learning environment, kick 'em out. If the losers and idiots weren't in the schools, they (the schools) would be great.

    We all know Americans can teach... we have some of the best Universities in the world. It is just that after High School all the losers are weeded out. Weed 'em out earlier is what I think we should do.

  • by PD ( 9577 ) <> on Thursday September 02, 1999 @08:06AM (#1709194) Homepage Journal
    I read the web site and I saw written nowhere that creationists and other irrational people are a huge threat to education. I agree with them that science education in this country is a mess. The fact that most adults believe that the universe was created by a god is proof of that. One of the critical things that we must do is defend schools against such things as public prayer, religion, and especially creationism. When dogma is taught as science all truth is in jeopardy.

  • The poster of this article sounded pretty hopeful that this was an indication of vast initiatives to come. I don't believe it. This is little more than a public relations page - there is no obligation for any of your representatives or even their representatives to read the comment board. By posting this forum, they are allowing people like ourselves and also educational apologists to blow off steam and feel as though their government is participatory. That is all this page will probably accomplish.

    I sound cynical, I know. But remember, with the way our democracy is currently structured, it is in the best interest of Congress is to make us feel as though problems are being addressed, not to actually address them. Without hot topics like education/affirmative action/taxes/etc., what grounds would most of those schmucks have for requesting reelection? They have to cover the influence of their corporate masters somehow...

    If you really want to influence education in America, then fuck websites. Get off your ass and DO something in a poor community. Donate computers! More importantly, donate your time! There are many ways that educated individuals can improve local schools. And don't forget to vote.

  • "One alternative is that you and everything else are all figments of my imagination, and I am the only thing in the universe."

    Actually, that theory has worked pretty well for me so far. :)
  • Just one more piece of proof concerning people who love to spout off irrational ideas. The bible doesn't say that pi = 3. You have to understand the way the hebrew language works to understand what it really says. But just because we translated it wrong, doesn't mean jack.
    umm (not a page I would personally recommend but first one I found from searching pi and bible.. but basically explains the problem) []
  • First, let's look at the public prayer issue. The restriction on prayer in schools is absurd.

    As usual, people are making a bigger deal out of this than they ought to. There is no restriction on personal prayer in schools, and you know it. If you want to say a silent prayer to yourself during recess, study hall, or an exam, you have the right to do so -- and nobody can ever take that right away. The restriction is on organized prayer. Now while the Christians cry persecution, you know damn well that a Muslim principal who starts out a commencement address with the words "There is no God but Allah" would have the Christians in an uproar to end all uproars. Yes, I know that by pointing out that Christianity is not the only world religion I have made myself to be anti-Christian and an enemy of God. I simply feel that the fact needs to be pointed out every once in a while.

    As for creationism: notice that it's called the "theory of natural selection", the "THEORY of evlotuion". Do I need to explain the difference between scientific theory and scientific law to you?

    Inasmuch as it appears you are unqualified to do so, please don't. :-) Others have already commented about "theories" and "laws" and how "proof" is a useless non-concept with regards to natural sciences.

    Yes, it's true that evolution is taught alongside of some other suspicious pseudoscientific claptrap, such as the theory of gravity, the atomic theory, the theory that germs cause disease, etc. After all, nobody has ever actually seen an atom with their own two eyes, and yet we teach our children about their existence with no qualms whatsoever. Time for some more warning stickers, apparently .. ?

    You seem to be of the stripe that believes in total freedom to be anything but a Christian.

    Well, I can't speak of the original poster, of course, but I am "of the stripe" that believes that a vocal religious minority has no right to force its beliefs down the throats of everybody and make its superstitions compulsary. If I was a raving lunatic that believed that the world was created by the Headless Horseman, you wouldn't want me teaching that to your children, would you? If you wouldn't, then perhaps you can understand why non-Biblical-literalists object to the teaching of Biblical creation in science classes (not to mention the fact that such teaching would be perhaps the penultimate violation of the First Amendment.)

    Nobody's talking about limiting Christianity or religion in general. If you think you're being persecuted because people oppose legislating your religious beliefs .. well, you're wrong.
  • I read the front of this page and that was enough. The government can say whatever they want, it doesn't mean they really care. The biggest tipoff for me was this line: "Education is the key to developing the intellectual capacity of our children -- the next generation of innovators, CONSUMERS and citizens." Yeah, gotta make sure that the kiddies know how to spend all their money on stuff they don't need.

    To me there are two big problems with education. Number one is money. If the government was serious about improving education, they wouldn't cut the education budget every year, while raising the budget for the military and the prison system. They need to raise the salaries for teachers so that the educational system can attract people who would be truely good teachers.

    Second is teaching kids to think for themselves. Another post mentioned something to this affect. I never learned anything like this in school, all I learned were a few half truths about history and how to do some math problems. We need classes on how to view the media critically, commercials, tv, or anything else that takes your time and or money. But no, not in this we have to go out and buy whatever the commercials tell us to buy.

    Until the gov't addresses these issues (or something similar) I won't take them seriously.
  • just because the bible is wrong doesnt mean that god didnt create the universe. maybe she just pressed the big, red powerswitch in the sky, or perhaps, (if you believe the cyclic universe theory) we were just rebooted.

    Good uptime whatever way you look at it
  • by DonkPunch ( 30957 ) on Thursday September 02, 1999 @08:26AM (#1709232) Homepage Journal
    I live in Dallas, Tx. Here, our school board meetings are often attended by political activists. These people are more concerned with getting their pictures in the news than with education. I believe that education is starting to become the practice field for aspiring politicians and activists.

    These clowns will rant for hours about values, fairness, and budgeting. If you ask one of them how we should teach a child the formula for finding the area of a circle, you'll get a blank stare. That's the problem.

    The first priority should be teaching core materials -- math, science, history, and language. If we're not doing that, we're not educating. We're simply creating an institution to hold kids until they're old enough to graduate. Maybe we'll accomplish some social indoctrination along the way. In Texas, that means you should know the score of last night's game even if you don't know the value of pi.

    The politics of American schools are becoming truly disgusting. Everyone wants to get their pet "values" put into the curriculum. This way, they gain mindshare with impressionable future voters. Best of all, they can defend their efforts with, "it's for the children."

    The best thing "for the children" now would be for schools to drop the fluff and get back to teaching. It should be so simple, but we make it so hard.
  • I wasn't defending creationism (or denying it) I just don't like to see people throw false facts out to try to prove their case. And if you accually read the Atheism FAQ [] you just pointed me to, it in no way mentiones the theory [] stated above, much less disproves it.
    Note: if you wern't replying to me, I apologize, but I see no reason for a rational person atheist or not standing up for ungrounded arguments.
  • Creationism should not be part of a science class because it is not a scientific theory.

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works.