The Failure of American Schools

Discussion in 'Economics' started by hippie, May 14, 2011.


    In fact, notwithstanding union rhetoric that “tenure is merely due process,” firing a public-school teacher for non-performance is virtually impossible. In New York City, which has some 55,000 tenured teachers, we were able to fire only half a dozen or so for incompetence in a given year, even though we devoted significant resources to this effort.

    The extent of this “no one gets fired” mentality is difficult to overstate—or even adequately describe. Steven Brill wrote an eye-opening piece in The New Yorker about the “rubber rooms” in New York City, where teachers were kept, while doing no work, pending resolution of the charges against them—mostly for malfeasance, like physical abuse or embezzlement, but also for incompetence. The teachers got paid regardless. (To add insult to injury, these cases ultimately were heard by an arbitrator whom the union had to first approve.) Before we stopped this charade—unfortunately by returning many of these teachers to the classroom, as the arbitrators likely would have required—it used to cost the City about $35 million a year.

    In addition, more than 1,000 teachers get full pay while performing substitute-teacher and administrative duties because no principal wants to hire them full-time. This practice costs more than $100 million annually.

    Perhaps the most shocking example of the City’s having to pay for teachers who don’t work involves several teachers accused of sexual misconduct—including at least one who was found guilty—whom the union-approved arbitrators refuse to terminate. Although the City is required to put them back in the classroom, it understandably refuses to do so. And the union has never sued the City to have these teachers reinstated, even though it knows it could readily win. It has also never helped figure out how to get these deadbeats off the payroll, where they may remain for decades at full pay, followed by a lifetime pension. No one—and the union means no one—gets fired.
  2. K-12 education, for most students, amounts to little more than glorified day care. The whole system should be revamped. By grade 10, students should be allowed to bail on the current path and follow a trade/apprenticeship track.

    And there is no need whatsoever for the tens of millions of people being pumped out of liberal arts programs of dubious merit. That expenditure does nothing to improve the lot of society.

    Somewhere along the way, we have gotten ourselves totally derailed from the purpose of education...
  3. Excellent Post!

    I'll just add my two cents.

    The "Failure of American Schools" is the fault of parents, or lack thereof. Education begins, and is amplified, in the home.
    Public Libraries are still free to use, last I checked.
    Parents could use the examples of unions to teach a child how NOT to run a business. :p
  4. students should be allowed to bail on the current path and follow a trade/apprenticeship track.


    The trades and apprenticeship is tougher than reg school. Most need to be liscensed, be able to do math (using a tape rule, for instance, for construction, hair dressers need a background in chemistry to do hair, the list is endless.) Auto repair is all computer diagonistic, these dummies who can't succedd with the minor discipline required in school will never make it in a trade. Hvac same thing. How many welders does this country need? Education is whack. Most kids major in cell phone and ipod and think they are the shit, but can't count money in a register or set an alarm clock.

    Girls get pregnant and guys fail drug tests. This about sums up the career path of thousands of young people that can't hold a job at McDonalds.
  5. Appears the trend is mandatory schooling until 16, then choice of path: Vocational, College Prep, Military. Makes sense compared to our 18 year old senior high schooler's.


    High school, (Norwegian: "Videregående Skole", English: "Continuational School"), in Norway is education and training that lead to general university admissions certification or vocational competence. High school is normally provided with 3 years in school or with 2 years in school and 2 years in an enterprise. General studies primarily emphasize theoretical knowledge and lead to general university admissions certification. If you choose general studies courses, you can enter university after 3 years. Vocational education and training leads to an occupation and to vocational competence with or without a craft- or journeyman’s certificate. Choosing vocational education/training allows you to enter working life within 3–5 years. You also have an opportunity to take the supplementary programme for general university admissions certification.

    High School in Norway is the most common education level as it provides the theoretical and practical education to work as a skilled worker e.g. a carpenter or chef. There are multiple basic programs to choose from and gives a complete understanding of the craft or profession obtained.

    People's Republic of China

    In China, the term 'high school', also 'senior middle school' (高中), often refers to the senior part of the Chinese secondary education, as oppose to the junior part, which is more commonly known as '(junior) middle school'. Normally, students who have finished six years of primary education will continue three more years of academic study in middle schools as regulated by the Compulsory education law at the age of twelve. This, however, is not compulsory for senior secondary education, where junior graduates may choose to continue a three-year academic education in academic high schools, which will eventually lead to university, or to switch to a vocational course in vocational high schools.

    Generally, high school years usually have two semesters, starting in September and February. In some rural areas, operation may subject to agricultural cycles. Number of lessons offered by school on a weekly basis is very subjective, largely depends on the school's resource. In addition to normal lessons, periods for private study and extracurricular activity are provided as well. The academic curriculum consists of Chinese, Mathematics, English, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, History, politics, Music, Fine Arts, PE, Technology, Computing etc. Some schools may also offer vocational subjects. Generally speaking, Chinese, Mathematics and English are considered as three main subjects as they will definitely be examed in Gaokao.

    In China cities, the majority of high school graduates will go onto universities or vocational colleges. Given the fact that the intensity of the competition for limited university places is unimaginable, most high schools are evaluated by their academic performance in Gaokao by parents and students.

    Rural secondary education has undergone several transformations since 1980, when county-level administrative units closed some schools and took over certain schools run by the people's communes. In 1982 the communes were eliminated. In 1985 educational reform legislation officially placed rural secondary schools under local administration. There was a high dropout rate among rural students in general and among secondary students in particular, largely because of parental attitudes. All students, however, especially males, were encouraged to attend secondary school if it would lead to entrance to a college or university (still regarded as prestigious) and escape from village life.


    High school in the Philippines refers to 4 years of education after 6–7 years of grade school. Children normally enter high school from age 13 or 14 and complete it when they reach age 16 or 17. Everyone who finishes high school normally receives a high school diploma and a transcript of records (DECS Form 137-A) and often participates in a graduation ceremony.


    In India, high school is a grade of education which includes Standards VII to X. Standards XI to XII called as Higher Secondary School or Senior Secondary School or Junior college.
  6. This "glorified day care" cost too much tax money!
  7. It most certainly is, BUT I've long since come to the conclusion that no one wants to touch the overpaid public unions for more than the obvious reasons that we constantly read about.

    Instead, it gets to the very heart of the way our economy functions. By creating this privileged class of employees with automatic raises, guaranteed pensions, etc, it adds a great deal of predictability towards consumption patterns. Since the private sector in this country has been shedding jobs for years, the stability and growth in the public sector offsets to some degree the lack of consumption that has been ongoing for years.

    In many ways, the overpaid public sector is another type of bailout/stimulus for many of the conglomerates that are already in bed with the politicians. The dirty little secret is that these public sector unions are the engine that keeps this economy humming along. After all, when you know that you will be paid your current salary even AFTER you stop working, the ability to consume grows skyward.
  8. Small businesses, non-union workers and other taxpayers carry the burden of the out-sized pay and benefit packages of unproductive unionized public workers.

    If I had to do it over again, I might well choose teaching instead of software work. I would be retired on a nice pension now instead of having to compete with H1 workers and off-shored teams for work in this economy. lol
  9. Indeed, these costs fall squarely on the backs of small businesses and non-union workers. In addition, they are now also paying for the "indirect subsidy" by way of runaway deficit spending and Fed monetization which has led to all sorts of commodity inflation (higher input costs).

    We should also not forget the 1400 or so exemptions that big businesses have been granted from the healthcare laws. It's unfair to label any of this as a clear cut case of Socialism or Fascism or whatever has become the =ism "du jour". It's simply a hodge podge of everything.

    Unfortunately, alot of others I'm sure also wished they simply got a government job and rolled into a gravy train retirement. However, that's the kind of thing you hear about in some backwater third world dictatorship. It certainly isn't a promising sign.