Archive for Monday, September 28, 2009

Obama favors more school, less vacation

September 28, 2009


— Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama gets his way.

Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe.

“Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas,” the president said earlier this year. “Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom.”

The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go.

“Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

Obama and Duncan say kids in the U.S. need more school because kids in other nations have more school.

While it is true that kids in many other countries have more school days, it’s not true they all spend more time in school. Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than the U.S. (180 days).

Regardless, there is a strong case for adding time to the school day.

Researcher Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution looked at math scores in countries that added math instruction time. Scores rose significantly, especially in countries that added minutes to the day, rather than days to the year.

Some schools are going year-round by shortening summer vacation and lengthening other breaks.

Summer is a crucial time for kids, especially poorer kids, because poverty is linked to problems that interfere with learning, such as hunger and less involvement by their parents.

Disadvantaged kids, on the whole, make no progress in the summer, said Karl Alexander, a sociology professor at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, home of the National Center for Summer Learning. Some studies suggest they actually fall back. Wealthier kids have parents who read to them, have strong language skills and go to great lengths to give them learning opportunities such as computers, summer camp, vacations, music lessons, or playing on sports teams.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

Here's my proposal--

Go to a year-round schedule, with 5 nine-week sessions. The first week of each session is for teacher prep, consultations among teachers and with students and parents, followed by eight weeks of classes.

There'd be a week off between sessions, except in Dec/Jan, when there are three weeks off.

Teachers could be contracted by the session, or for multiple sessions. Students could more easily advance at their own pace.

Any other ideas?

headdoctor 8 years ago

I am just waiting for all the right wing wackos to start posting their objections because Obama is somehow taking over the world by want the children to be better educated.

jafs 8 years ago

Since American children are already spending more time in class than Asian ones, perhaps we need to focus on improving the quality of our educational system.

Shane Garrett 8 years ago

Is that last paragraph suggesting that poor people cannot read to their children, and cannot give their children learning opportunities such as computers at the local library, free church camp during the summer, or play on a community sports team? I could see how not taking a vacation would make a child stupid, but the other opportunities are there, if poor people would just put the pipe down and take advantage of the opportunities that living in America gives them. Hmmm, sorry I spent three years in Illinois. People with low expectations usually just sit around drinking natural light and complaint about how "They" (sic) took their job. And vote for Illionis politicans.

jonas_opines 8 years ago

"Since American children are already spending more time in class than Asian ones. . ."

I was under the impression that the opposite was true, especially with cram schools put in the picture.

imastinker 8 years ago

I think this is the first thing I've heard in a while from Obama that makes sense.

remember_username 8 years ago

I agree the U.S. is falling behind in our educational advantage and a longer school year is one solution - but who's going to pay for a longer year? We can barely get the funding to keep what we have, so I think this idea is going to generate some flak. Unfortunately, the only solutions I can think of are patchwork fixes that are just as financially unpalatable.

The only real solution involves changing the nature of the average American mindset, something I'm convinced is not possible without drastic action. Therefore, the decline in the quality of American preparatory education is inevitable.

remember_username 8 years ago

Liberty - earlier comments that you made regarding education had me investigating the history of "compulsory education" and it is a fascinating subject, so thanks for that.

I started asking kids, of a variety of grade levels, their opinion on mandatory education. While in no way a broad based poll I was surprised at the consistency of the result. All supported being required to go to school, one admitting that he wouldn't go if given a choice but thought that he should go. One 14 yr old told me that someday someone from her generation was going to be in charge. "You don't know who it's going to be, but it'd be better if they were educated".

headdoctor 8 years ago

TomShewmon (Tom Shewmon) says… The Consitution of the United States of America is “an imperfect document” and “fundamentally flawed”

You are not a very good spin doctor. I suggest you don't give up your day job. Wait. what day job? You really do not care what color the President is? Really? The problem I have with your quote is the same problem I have with a lot of politicians.

Shall we look at what was said in context instead of grabbing what you want for a twisted point.

beawolf 8 years ago

It's not about the mandatory time spent in classrooms, it's about the about the after school programs, weekend programs and Summer school. Both of my children are teachers. They both had established programs (one during the summer and one after school) that were cut. One was in math and science the other was info tech. Both were extremely popular. Let's put our resources where they will do the most good.

georgeofwesternkansas 8 years ago

The answer to the problem is parents becoming involved, making sure their children understand and actually do their homework...problem solved...

headdoctor 8 years ago

Liberty_One (Anonymous) says… Public education is such a failure I don't know why anyone wants to keep it. It shouldn't be privatized but done completely away with.

That has to be your butt talking because I would hope your mouth would know better. I am somewhat familiar with the quality that home school can offer but just how do you propose keeping the county educated. It hasn't even been 40 years since this county had over 56 million illiterates running around. What you suggest would be the epitome of the dumbing down of America.

I will be waiting for your ideas on just how to fix the education problem.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

"Public education is such a failure I don't know why anyone wants to keep it."

Come on, LO, hyperbole doesn't help make your case. Public education, for the majority of people, does an adequate job. Not a perfect job, but generally adequate, although that's no reason to be complacent about improving it.

And besides, all those countries who rank ahead of us in education-- they also have public schools.

remember_username 8 years ago

Liberty - What you're suggesting was already in place prior to the establishment of compulsory education and it wasn't working. Parents, even though most recognized the value of and education, sent their kids to school only when they could afford it. The illiteracy rate was higher than it is now and children, when not in school had to work to support the family.

There was little class mobility without compulsory education - if you were born into a farming family you were more likely remain a farmer. This encourages the stratification of society. When only the wealthy are able to send kids to the best schools it will do nothing to cure the "boredom" of the smart poor child. However, when the wealthy go to the best school, then the wealthy rather than the intelligent are more likely to make policy.

tolawdjk 8 years ago

Damn James, Death Panels are one thing, but by age 12 you are going to label a kid as "non-college material"? I don't think even the Amazing Kreskin had the kind of insight to determine someone's educational worth 6+ years into the future.

Cooky_the_Cook 8 years ago

Liberty_One (Anonymous) says…

Public education is such a failure I don't know why anyone wants to keep it. It shouldn't be privatized but done completely away with.

Cooky says...

Wow, you are soooo libertarian. So cool. You probably went to school like Leonidas in that "300" movie... almost naked, all by yourself, in the snowy wilderness... then you speared a wolf and wore the pelt when you returned to Lawrence to be the king ... dude, you are awesome. Do you know how to shoot a gun? I bet you do. So cool. Public school is for losers.

remember_username 8 years ago

JamesUnruh - Age 12? That's grade 6 or 7. How do we do that to children at such an impressionable age when "the trades" are held in such low esteem?

I agree there are too many who shouldn't, but do currently, go to university. But that has more to do with maturity or commitment than intelligence.

kugrad 8 years ago

Liberty-One, public schools are far from a failure. They perform remarkably well doing something the nations we are often compared to do NOT do: Educating all children (including those with retardation, learning disabilities, severe handicaps, etc.) and, yes, INCLUDING their scores in our national testing NCLB reports. It is rubbish to suggest our schools are failures and foolish to suggest people would just take care of it on their own. Our public schools are quite strong. You have benefited from public education no matter whether you ever stepped foot in a public school or not. Our whole nation has. Get a clue.

tbaker 8 years ago

How about we let the local school boards the citizens elect make this decision? Since when is the length of the school year federal business? The more local government is - the better it is. Since the inception of the department of education, the percentage of high school drop-outs has increased. This is the last organization we want calling the shots in OUR schools. Fedzilla needs to stay out of this.

remember_username 8 years ago

Liberty - Parents, in general, have shown themselves to be willing to turn their child's education over to others with little involvement beyond semester report cards. That is truly a market entrepreneurs dream - no standards, regulation, or oversight. By the time you realize I've screwed up your kids I'm gone with the money. It's ok to be an idealist and think that people are capable of governing themselves, and in the small rural village where all think similarly it might work. In the real world people need rules and government or they will revert to a world of "big monkey gets the babes".

remember_username 8 years ago

ksfbcoach - you sure about that? I'm sure I've seen comparisons at different grade levels.

remember_username 8 years ago

Ok Liberty - you mentioned the LSAT. I thought you argued for removal of all regulation. If there is testing then there must be a measurement standard. But who monitors that?

Do you also suggest scholarships for the poor who have a kid that tests well? How do they get to test well when they start off in a poorer program?

headdoctor 8 years ago

Liberty_One (Anonymous) says… headdoctor, you assume that without the government doing it for us, we can't do it for ourselves. The government doesn't have to centrally plan out every grocery store and gas station so that we can have food and fuel, yet it gets done all the same. There is no reason to think education is any different. Where there's a market entrepreneurs will step in to fill that need—with far better results.

You are making a very large assumption as to what I think. If you think kids are slipping through the cracks now, wait until education is run by a handful of corporations. If you think the public system carries a high price per student I doubt it would be any cheaper ran by a company and certainly not in an affordable range for a large majority of the population.

There is nothing wrong with thinking outside the box for fixes but one also needs to look down the road at the possible ramifications because of those type of fixes. Considering the last few decades of how corporations operate it would be just a matter of a few years and only about 15 to maybe 20 percent of the population would be well educated and the rest would be uneducated and unproductive. Not a smart move if you don't want the Government taking care of people from cradle to grave.

remember_username 8 years ago

To answer - there was little class mobility before compulsory education. When I started reading up on compulsory education this was one of the justifications and there was sufficient evidence to convince me of the validity of the justification.

I don't think the movement of immigrants had much to do with educational opportunity. More economic opportunity. Plus by the time compulsory education was widespread the U.S. had begun to restrict immigration for other reasons.

staff04 8 years ago

"Public education is such a failure I don't know why anyone wants to keep it. It shouldn't be privatized but done completely away with."

"you assume that without the government doing it for us, we can't do it for ourselves"

Just curious:

With such strong convictions is it safe to assume you eschewed the FAFSA in favor of private financing? Did the law school you attend/ed receive any tax incentives when they built the school?

You're like a caricature. I like that.

whynaut 8 years ago

Public education is a dismal failure, a tremendous success, and tepidly adequate, all at the same time. It is such a large institution, with so many independent variables, that it's counter productive to try to classify it's success as a whole with any single assessment.

Successful cases in public education occur when devoted educators, devoted administration, and devoted support from the home unit are all readily accessible to the student. The last of these is arguably the most important. If the support from home is present, the jobs of the educators and administrators become worlds easier; if not, nearly impossible.

Occasionally, students who have the deck stacked against them at home, can overcome their misfortunes and succeed at school in spite of it, but it's pretty rare. More often than not, undereducated guardians rear undereducated children, public education or not. It's an unfortunate cycle; a negative feedback loop that public education struggles against constantly.

Take 5 minutes to lookup the Harlem Children's Zone Project. Dubbed 'baby college', it's a joint educational program for parents and youth where the targeted audience is not the children, but the parents. From what I've heard, it's getting good results in inner city Harlem. It's not a silver bullet, but educating the parents of public students is a good start that attacks the root of the cultural issue.

jimmyjms 8 years ago

It's no surprise that the right would be up in arms over this.

You'd have to have a pretty crappy education to buy what the GOP is selling.

staff04 8 years ago

I'm not calling you a hypocrite--I know what is inescapable. The reason I bring it up is in the hope that you might consider a couple of things:

1) If the government didn't help you finance your education, what would your other options be?

2) If the government didn't help create educational opportunities through mechanisms like incentives and tax status, would you have a school to go to?

You make very strong statements (that are apparently a reflection of your principles) that we don't need the government's assistance to do these things. I wonder if you've really given full consideration to the realities of those statements.

denak 8 years ago

I absolutely agree with the President and I suspect most parents do to. Our current school year was put in place when we were an agricultural society. Our children no longer need three months off so that they can help on the farm. It is time for the school calendar to reflect the 21st century not the 19th century.

Furthermore, numerous studies back up the need for year long school or at least less of a summer break. Teachers spend the first few weeks of school reteaching what the children forget over the summer holiday. Children, especially young children, do not have the cognitive ability to retain what they learned the year before over such a long break. Having a year long school year with shorter breaks, will alliviate some of the reteaching teachers have to do. Also, I suspect that quite a few teachers/social workers/secretaries/janitors/bus drivers/paraeducators etc would rather have a paycheck every month than just for 9 months.

Also, having an educated populace strengthens our democracy primarily by creating/supporting a strong middle class. Without that middle class, without that educated populace, people are at the mercy of an educated, landed elite. An elite that historically has preyed upon the poor/uneducated. Look throughout history, who has challenged thes elite most of the time--the educators. College professors.... the Jesuits....writers.

The U.S. has one of the strongest democracies in the world. We are a democracy, in part, because we have compulsary education. So as much as some would like to complain about public education...or hold themselves above it.... we are a strong nation because of it. There are problems that need to be fixed and the President is trying to fix one of the problems and personally, I think it is a good idea.


remember_username 8 years ago

"I find it hard to believe that the same people who throw a hissy fit when they get the wrong order at McDonald's would causually throw away money on a failing school."

Failing by whose standards? I'm telling you your kids doing great - keep 'em in my school! Getting the wrong order is measurable. Does every college write their own entrance exams? Both coasts perform better on SAT, the midwest relies more on ACT, and why the heck did Texas come up with their own (THEA)?

GardenMomma 8 years ago

Perhaps it's not the quantity that's lacking, but the quality?

Perhaps better funding of the educational system would be beneficial?

remember_username 8 years ago

Liberty - If we allow the free market to educate our kids I'm sure it would end up differently than you might envision.

Imagine the Wal-Mart of private education, "our branch school is coming to a community near you. Don't worry about standardized tests your kids can go to our college. We accept children from all our branch schools - and since we're a massive conglomerate we've the best sports teams. You say your kid can't make it in our Alpha college that's alright! At our Beta institutions we guarantee to educate them in a good trade it doesn't cost much because they will work for us through their apprentice and journeyman years. They needn't join the military or be satisfied with a fast food career. Does your child have talent? Why send them to that high priced New York school? We have two theme parks and three cable stations available to teach your kid to be a star, and did I mention we're cheaper?"

I don't know if that's what will happen. But people along with an unregulated free market is frightening - that's what gave us reality television.

whynaut 8 years ago

Liberty_One says: "Not true. I go to a private school on scholarship. Why? Because my LSAT score was good and it improves the schools numbers. In a free market how would schools attract students? When parents research schools they are going to look at performance numbers and the best way to boost that is to attract top students. To the contrary of what you suggest, intelligent children of all economic backgrounds will be sought out by the top schools."

Rebuttal: If private schools have the choice between smart rich kids and smart poor kids, who do you think they'll choose? Get real.

whynaut 8 years ago

Liberty_One says: "I know it could be far cheaper because we already have plenty of examples of how much more efficiently private education is run. An example is the Catholic schools in New York City. They have far fewer adminstrators per student than the public schools in the same city."

Rebuttal: Could that be because they have far fewer problematic students and families to deal with? And what happens in private school when a trouble child causes too many problems? Typically, they wind up in public school.

whynaut 8 years ago

Liberty_One says: "Most importantly is that the range of options would expand. Do you want a comprehensive education or one more narrowly tailored to your child's interests and abilities? Wouldn't that be great if we could really get the most out of education—challenging students at their ability level instead of teaching to the average, a more individualized education for every student, direct accountability between the customer and supplier?"

Rebuttal: Specialization is of course a good thing once you reach a certain point in your education, and in America, we have these options through university, community colleges, trade schools, etc. But don't you think there's benefit to little basic well roundedness? The slope between specialized, targeted education and pigeonholing can be a slippery one. Are you allowing them to realize their full potential, or are you denying them opportunities that they didn't even know they had. I know many many adults who changed their educational direction after their mid 20s, and I know many many more that feel like they are stuck because of a lack of basic skills in one area or another.

whynaut 8 years ago

Liberty_One says: "You forget that they will be competing with other entrepreneurs. Instead of cutting programs like music and althetics (sic) they will be competing to add more of them."

Rebuttal: This would only happen between competing schools with plenty of resources to do so. Institutions without the resources wouldn't be on the same competitive playing field, and it's these that would attract the lower classes because of their cheaper cost, thus perpetuating inequity.

monkeyspunk 8 years ago


What happens if a family cannot afford to send their 5 year old child to one of your corporate schools? What if they do not qualify for one of these private scholarships? What if they do qualify, but there are none remaining? What options would you suggest for such a family? Forced home school?

You suggest a system that will bring any kind of class mobility to an absolute standstill. Sure a very small percentage of the poorer children would be able to attend the "elite" schools because of scholarship, but what about the 95% that don't get tuition assistance?

No, your plan/suggestions are incredibly unfair and would put the US even further behind the rest of the world.

georgiahawk 8 years ago

Liberty one, it is obvious from what you say on almost every topic that you are young without any life experience.

tbaker 8 years ago

Big ditto Liberty.

If a person wants to learn the truth behind how and why our government is what it is, you have to learn it yourself. It is most certainly not taught in government-controlled schools. The biased, revisionist garbage that is taught is far from the truth - which is why I occasionally sit in on my children's classes and challenge their teachers (who are often ignorant themselves) with the truth.

Martini_Boy 8 years ago

Wait till the NEA wacko's get ahold of this one. They'll tear it to shreds (oh wait, they get O in their back pocket), never mind

whynaut 8 years ago

Liberty: "Get real? I'm talking about reality here. Just look at law schools—they compete for the best students regardless of their family's income. What reality are you talking about?"

Law school costs a buttload of money. Your talking about requiring the same of elementary and secondary schools?

"Nope. What does the “Coordinator of Student Transportation Services” have to do with problematic students?"

Not sure what you mean here.

"First of all, the public school system is what is denying students opportunities. They teach to the middle so that the above average students aren't challenged and the below average ones are left behind. How is that an opportunity? Poor quality well-roundedness isn't worth much. Regardless, there would be much more opportunity under a free market education system to explore different fields since schools wouldn't be “teaching to the tests” but instead teaching to what their customers wanted."

It's not that black or white. Some public schools have awesome opportunities. Usually, they are based in affluent places where special, localized taxes go to the school, and well to do families donate large sums to the schools their children go to. In other schools, where the average family income is much lower, they are left with only what the government gives them, which isn't much. Some public schools have a computer for every student (so I've heard with Blue Valley, but that needs to be confirmed), others only might have one computer per class room. Others still have to share a single computer between multiple class rooms (my brother taught at Schlagle and that was the case). So, yes, the current system has inequities, but it's not because of the current system, it's because of other reasons.

I agree with you about teaching to the tests. Both my brother, sister, father, mother, stepmother, and at least 3 cousins work in public education, and the No Child Left Behind business was a tremendous burden to them all. None of them ever had a good thing to say about it.

whynaut 8 years ago

"To the contrary, our current system perpetuates inequity. Poorer people are doomed to suffer through the dismal public schools while the wealthy can send their children to our far better private schools. These failing schools aren't helping anyone, and by keeping them around you are keeping the status quo."

Not all public schools are dismal, and the ones that are are not so because they are public. They are dismal because of inefficiencies in resource allocation and a lack of outside funding that's present in districts located in more affluent locations. It's these problems that need to be addressed. They are certainly not easy problems to solve, but I really don't think we can capitalize our way out of this one. One of the underlying biproducts of capitalism is that you almost always get what you pay for. If you can't pay for much, you don't get much. You either sacrifice quantity or quality. That's fine for bicycles, boats, and beer, but when your country has adopted a mandate to fairly educate its public for little to no cost to the individual, then a public solution is the only recourse.

whynaut 8 years ago

Liberty: on your "Government Knows Best" and how our history classes aren't teaching all angles of important historical events.

I totally agree with you, but again, it's not an issue of public schools being public, and it most CERTAINLY wouldn't be solved by corporatizing education. That idea is just ridiculous considering the lengths that private companies go to to get you to believe their product is hands down the best. Just think of what some 'schools' would leave out of their curricula trying to appeal to a certain customer base.

whynaut 8 years ago

Liberty: "My views are based on reality, not a dream-world..."

Correction, your views are based on YOUR reality, which is apparently very different from the ones who you'd be willing to deprive of a free education.

Try to do what staunch conservatives and libertarians are often loathe to do: put yourself in the position of those less fortunate. Try to imagine a privatized education system a hundred years down the road, and try to imagine what your opportunities would be if you had no money.

Or... try to imagine that our system was privatized from the beginning, and then put yourself in Topeka in the early fifties as a young black student (call me presumptuous but I assume you were not a young black student in Topeka in the early fifties). Until the Brown case, many schools in Topeka were optionally segregated; it wasn't required. Which means that left to their own devices, they stayed segregated. It took the highest court in the land to rectify the injustice. How long might it have taken if these were private institutions?

whynaut 8 years ago

Liberty: "Education, like health care, bicycles, boats, and beer, is not inherently any different economically. We may put a higher social value on it, but when it comes to issues like supply and demand, scarcity etc. education is just another commodity and it follows all the same rules."

Ah.. I believe we've touched on the fundamental difference between our approaches. We do, and should in my opinion, put a MUCH higher social value on education and health care than we do bicycles, boats, and beer. For education and health care are invaluable elements that contribute to a societies over all health, whereas bicycles, boats, and yes, even beer, are just things, luxuries that at best, make an individual more comfortable during our stay here. If you begin to treat education as a similar commodity, then you subject it to the same pitfalls of other free market wares. If a boat manufacturer has a bad year, they either make less boats, skimp on their quality, try to do more with fewer staff, or close the plant altogether. I can imagine a society without boats or bicycles (I'll have to ponder the absence of beer), but not one without an educated public. I think education is absolutely worthy of a public insurance policy to ensure that it is among the last of services to be skimped upon, no matter how dire the economic climate, since it is so vital to the success of any society, our own included.

whynaut 8 years ago

Liberty: "It is the ultimate in government intervention..."

Maybe true. And it would truly be a scary thing if it were completely run by a handful of idealogues trying to push an agenda. But it's not. Public schools, and private for that matter, will only be as good as the teachers and administrators running them. School districts, at least in KS, are state run, which means that the state decides the guidelines for the curriculum, and works to ensure that the district's administrators select a curriculum that abides by those guidelines. Superintendents are hired by elected boards who are often made of up community leaders and parents of students. They in turn hire the principals, teachers, curriculum directors, etc. It's a pretty democratic process and has a fair amount of oversight. If the curriculum gets too wonky, or a teacher under performs, board members are replaced in the next elections, teachers are fired and replaced. In many aspects, it operates much like a private company. The only difference is they don't have to rely on a profit to continue to provide education for free. Since they don't have to rely on a profit, they don't have to rely on the revenues coming from students. This discourages unequal treatment given students based on their ability to provide revenue to the school.

Not that private schools don't treat their students equally, but they do have the ability to raise tuition to keep out families with limited financial means. Capitalism's track record at playing fair is just not good enough for me to have confidence in a completely privatized education system, especially when such a precious resource is at risk.

whynaut 8 years ago

I should revise my previous statement. By 'the state decides the guidelines for the curriculum' I meant to say the State School Board. And when I said it's not completely run by a handful of idealogues, I should say that occasionally the relatively small State School Board (which is elected) can be taken over by a handful of idealogues and introduce ridiculous anti-theories into the curriculum.

... but... look what happened, the public was upset, the board membership changed with the next election, and we all learned a valuable lesson in the electing of public officials. Yay democracy.

jumpin_catfish 8 years ago

He favors more money to the government and less in my pocket too. Americans, why did you elect this guy!?

denak 8 years ago

"....Did you ever learn the competing interpretations of ... , the Necessary and Proper Clause or the General Welfare Clause?..."

You mean like the Hamiltonian interpretation used to promote public education in the U.S.

Probably missed that in school. I was too busy reading that Jeffersonian belief that education was "the great equalizer" and his belief that "there is a direct correlation between literacy, citzenship and self-government".


sfjayhawk 8 years ago

Obama favors more school, less vacation


whynaut 8 years ago

Liberty: That's a good point. But back when computers were 2 large a pop, the poorer schools couldn't afford them and the rich schools could, helping to contribute to the digital divide. It has ebbed since, but what about the last twenty years? What about the thirty-year-olds who are only now being exposed to computers because the can only now afford them, versus the thirty-year-olds who had extensive access since they were 10? Who's more likely to get a job?

As for the language, congrats on learning Spanish, but I'll be sure to ask the many people I know who have majored or are majoring in foreign languages and see if they think that purchasing software is a plausible substitute for a much richer and broader understanding of not only the language, but the culture. You may be right.

The ceilings we see in public education are more due to inefficiencies than to the fact that it's publicly funded. I hate to reiterate so, but I think we're missing each other on this point. The fact that it's public means that everybody is helping to pay for the education of everyone else. I believe what your arguing is the fact that it's public means that the bloatedness of the whole thing and the inability to provide oversight leads to education on a lowest common denominator that doesn't benefit anyone, but rather is a detriment to them. To this, I agree to some extent (although I think you are grossly underestimating the quality of public education), but where I think we disagree is that I think the bloatedness and lack of oversight that do exist are solvable problems. Not only that, they are worth solving for the sole purpose of keeping public education alive. If it dies, then we won't have everybody helping to pay for everybody else's education. We'll have upper class incomes paying for upper class educations, middle upper incomes paying for middle class educations, and the lower class incomes paying for lower class educations. We can already see this to some degree in higher education. John Hopkins doesn't have a large contingent of mill-workers children just as there aren't a lot of Senators' sons at ITT Tech. An education system completely driven by the free-market would lead to the same discrepancies in elementary and high schools as we see in higher education. And although you might argue that that is currently the case, at least in public education, we have elected officials working on policies to diminish the inequities instead of letting free market forces kick to the curb any of those underperforming. No sympathy in capitalism.

whynaut 8 years ago

Liberty: I'm not arguing for the eradication of private schools. I'm sure they are great institutions kicking along merrily by free market forces. I'm merely arguing for the value that exists in public education. You, on the other hand, seem to think the absolute supplanting of the public option in favor of a private one would solve the all the problems. Are you not content with the private education system as it is in America today, where those with means can send their children to receive whatever quality of education they believe they're getting? Why the crusade against the public option when everything you're arguing for already exists? Unless you feel the government is unjustified in appropriating the taxes from your privately educated income to those that could never afford to go to your school.

No sympathy in capitalism. No, not if you are a competitor. Ah... but is education something for which we should have to compete?

deskboy04 8 years ago

I think that we ought to try to educate everyone. I am just curious and don't know the answer, how much do those countries that outscore the US on tests pay their teachers?

volunteer 8 years ago

This is a matter for the states, not Uncle Sam. Let's get back to following the Constitution, i.e. the 10th Amendment.

coolmom 8 years ago

i think they should add a little more time to each day for math, science and reading and probably something like computers but there is no money now. the grade school my son goes to closed half the bathrooms to save money. computers are rarely used and libraries are closed. seriously?

Paul R Getto 8 years ago

Good points by the President. We cannot reform schools reforming the schools we have, based on an obsolete, time-based industrial model and an ancient agricultural calendar which requires students to labor in the fields. When schools are open 12 hours a day all year long, we will know we are making some progress. The costs will be considerable, but the price we pay for our out-of-date system is much greater.

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