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April 21, 2009

Our Education President: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Juan Williams is on fire:

The reckless dismantling of the D.C. voucher program does not speak well of the promise by Obama to be the “Education President.”

This is critical to our nation’s future in terms of workforce preparation to compete in a global economy but also to fulfill the idea of racial equality by providing a real equal opportunity for all young people who are willing to work hard to succeed.

In a politically calculated dance step the Obama team first indicated that they wanted the Opportunity Scholarship Program to continue for students lucky enough to have won one of the vouchers. The five-year school voucher program is scheduled to expire after the school year ending in June 2010. Secretary Duncan said in early March that it didn’t make sense “to take kids out of a school where they’re happy and safe and satisfied and learning…those kids need to stay in their school.”

And all along the administration indicated that pending evidence that this voucher program or any other produces better test scores for students they were willing to fight for it. The president has said that when it comes to better schools he is open to supporting “what works for kids.” That looked like a level playing field on which to evaluate the program and even possibly expanding the program.

But last week Secretary Duncan announced that he will not allow any new students to enter the D.C. voucher program. In fact, he had to take back the government’s offer of scholarships to 200 students who had won a lottery to get into the program starting next year. His rationale is that if the program does not win new funding from Congress then those students might have to go back to public school in a year.

He does not want to give the students a chance for a year in a better school? That does not make sense if the students and their families want that life-line of hope. It does not make sense if there is a real chance that the program might win new funding as parents, educators and politicians rally to undo the “bigotry of low expectations” and open doors of opportunity — wherever they exist — for more low-income students.

And now Secretary Duncan has applied a sly, political check-mate for the D.C. voucher plan.

With no living, breathing students profiting from the program to give it a face and stand and defend it the Congress has little political pressure to put new money into the program. The political pressure will be coming exclusively from the teacher’s unions who oppose the vouchers, just as they oppose No Child Left Behind and charter schools and every other effort at reforming public schools that continue to fail the nation’s most vulnerable young people, low income blacks and Hispanics.

I guess all the talk about erasing inequality wasn't so important, after all. But then it's easy to dismiss parents' concerns when you can afford to send your daughters to Sidwell Friends.

Tuition for 2008-2009
Lower School $28,442
Middle and Upper Schools $29,442

Tuition includes a daily hot lunch, curriculum fees, and Lower School textbooks.

Additional annual fees are:

Lower School Parents Association Fee $50
Middle School Parents Association Fee $55
Upper School Parents Association Fee $75
Middle School Textbooks $250-$300
Upper School Textbooks $500-$600
Bus Transportation (Optional)
Daily trips between Washington, DC and Bethesda, MD campuses $695/$995 Lower School Aftercare (Optional)
1 to 5 days per week $1,485 to $5,250
Middle School Aftercare (Optional) $650 per trimester

Piece of cake, really.

Update: This is just stunning:

ANEW SURVEY shows that 38 percent of members of Congress have sent their children to private school. About 20 percent themselves attended private school, nearly twice the rate of the general public. Nothing wrong with those numbers; no one should be faulted for personal decisions made in the best interests of loved ones. Wouldn't it be nice, though, if Congress extended similar consideration to low-income D.C. parents desperate

...The gap between what Congress practices and what it preaches was best illustrated by the Heritage Foundation's analysis of a recent vote to preserve the program. The measure was defeated by the Senate 58 to 39; it would have passed if senators who exercised school choice for their own children had voted in favor. Alas, the survey doesn't name names, save for singling out Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), architect of the language that threatens the program, for sending his children to private school and attending private school himself.

Posted by Cassandra at April 21, 2009 01:31 PM

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If Dick Turban voted against the measure, guaranteed each of the other *nay* votes came from the Left side of the aisle.

This Congress is so comfortable in its hypocrisy, it doesn't even bother to enforce its own Ethics Code -- DiFi being the Egregious Offender du Jour -- unless it's a Republican or a conservative Democrat who's run afoul of the Code, or the Majority decrees so because he had the temerity to annoy said Majority...

Posted by: BillT at April 21, 2009 04:05 PM

I was particularly irritated at the people who kept quoting "security concerns" for the Obama girl's school decision.

Because, like, what could be safer than attending school ON A MILITARY BASE? I would have thought that would have been an option for them, ya know?

But that's public school. Can't have that.

Posted by: airforcewife at April 21, 2009 05:12 PM

Maybe I'm missing something but since when is private school a necessity to be provided for by the government? I've always understood it to be that if your parents can afford to send you then great. If not, then you get to go to school with the rest of the great unwashed.

I'm a public school kid. I didn't turn out so bad.

I'm sorry but just because you are low income, doesn't mean your brains are any more valuable than mine and everyone is entitled to public school so it's not like kids are being denied an education. Reneging on the lottery for the scholarship sucks but that's life. It isn't fair and sometimes you get thrown for a loop. That's when you have to improvise and people get to see what you are made of.

Posted by: Red at April 21, 2009 05:42 PM

Are you a graduate of the DC school system?

There are public schools and public schools. I washed other people's windows, mowed their lawns and changed their babies' diapers so my children would be in a decent school with a challenging curriculum. When I lived at a duty station where even the private schools sucked, I home schooled.

Some people are lucky enough to live somewhere where the public schools are decent.

But in general, most of the public schools anywhere near a Marine base are in the bottom quartile of the nation. Numbers vary according to the method used, but the DC public schools lead the nation in per-pupil expenditures.

Yet the quality of the education is far worse.

At the state level, the District (actually DCPS only) was the third highest spending in
nominal dollars, but ninth in the nation when adjusted for geographic cost differences:
Per Pupil Amounts for Current Spending -- Public Elementary-Secondary School Systems by State FY 2005
State Vermont Nominal $$ Cost adjusted $$ $ 11,835 $ 14,001
Wyoming $ 10,255 $ 12,709
New York State $ 14,119 $ 12,632
New Jersey $ 13,800 $ 12,269
Maine $ 10,106 $ 12,084
Alaska $ 10,830 $ 11,449
Pennsylvania $ 10,552 $ 11,108
Montana $ 8,058 $ 10,861
District (DCPS) $ 12,979 $ 10,748

It costs less - far less - to give students whose parents care about education a voucher to a good charter school:


We're often told that public schools are underfunded. In the District, the spending figure cited most commonly is $8,322 per child, but total spending is close to $25,000 per child -- on par with tuition at Sidwell Friends, the private school Chelsea Clinton attended in the 1990s.

What accounts for the nearly threefold difference in these numbers? The commonly cited figure counts only part of the local operating budget. To calculate total spending, we have to add up all sources of funding for education from kindergarten through 12th grade, excluding spending on charter schools and higher education. For the current school year, the local operating budget is $831 million, including relevant expenses such as the teacher retirement fund. The capital budget is $218 million. The District receives about $85.5 million in federal funding. And the D.C. Council contributes an extra $81 million. Divide all that by the 49,422 students enrolled (for the 2007-08 year) and you end up with about $24,600 per child.

For comparison, total per pupil spending at D.C. area private schools -- among the most upscale in the nation -- averages about $10,000 less. For most private schools, the difference is even greater.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 21, 2009 05:57 PM

I'm sorry but just because you are low income, doesn't mean your brains are any more valuable than mine

I don't think that's really applicable to the voucher system since it isn't only poor students who are eligible for vouchers.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 21, 2009 06:03 PM

I did some research earlier (http://truthbeforedishonor.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/year-round-school/) (Somehow, nearly all the links on that post are broken.) on education and found the students who went to private schools tested better than the students who went to public schools and students who were homeschooled tested better than the students who went to private schools. And the cost per student dropped as the education quality improved. But forces in the government work hard, with the aid of NEA and AFT money, to prevent the children from getting a good education.

The whole idea of using government money for a child to get a private education rests on a false premise. The system we had in our neck of the woods took half of the student's expense out of the public school to send to the private school with the student. There was no extra money used so there was no extra cost to the government. And, since the other half of the money stayed with the public school the student no longer attended, the public school actually had more money per student. So, the harm to the public schools due to the loss of money was downright false.

In a later post (http://truthbeforedishonor.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/we-is-more-smarter-today/), I noted a 1895 8th grade exam that I would not be able to pass. There was no federal funding of schools at that time. I doubt there was state funding of schools. And the school year was much shorter. So just throwing money at public schools will not fix the problem.

So, I have no ability to understand why people want to tie anyone to the obviously failed public school complex.

Posted by: John Hitchcock at April 21, 2009 10:45 PM

Hypocrisy, thy name is "Congrefs"...

Posted by: camojack at April 22, 2009 01:29 AM

As a sub, I have been in schools with students from affluent families and schools with students from low income families. Guess which school I have never had behavior problems with the students? The affluent schools. Guess which schools I can pretty much be guaranteed to have behavior issues with at least some students? The low-income schools. It doesn't have to be this way, but it is. And I've only subbed at elementary schools. Just a handful of disruptive students can completely destroy the learning environment for those students who want to try to learn. Vouchers gives those families who really want their child to learn to get their child out of an environment completely unsuited to learning to one where the focus can be on learning and not keeping all the students in line.

There also needs to be a change in how schools are organized. Classes need to have a more homogeneous group of students, but somewhere along the line "tracking" students "wasn't good for their self-esteem". That's BS. Trust me - the kids don't have to be "tracked" into high-achieving, average and low-achieving groups for the kids to know who the "smart kids" and the "dumb kids" are. With tracking, a teacher can focus on the needs of one group of students, instead of trying to keep the high-achieving kids challenged, keep the average kids learning, and trying to keep the low-achieving kids from falling even further behind the rest of the kids. Bored high-achieving kids can be behavior problems. Frustrated low-achieving kids can be behavior problems.

If I were independently wealthy, I might like to find a family that really wants to help their child learn, so long as that child WANTS to learn, and give that child the equivalent of a home-school education. Hell, at this point, I think that if I ever have kids of my own, I'm going to want to home-school them...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at April 22, 2009 01:36 AM

Welcome to the Ranks. Miss L, when people tell me I need to be worried about their social skillz, I am gratified to learn by that statement that they think I am competent enough to teach my own child.

Social skills do involve that very important subset of behavior that requires you behave a certain way in a certain environment to achieve an outcome.

In my last sociology class, there was a heated debate regarding the education system preserving the status quo of keeping children in subjection to authority (I fergit what it was called...) as opposed to the Marxist type of person who agitated for change. I pointed out that as a teacher, I would expect a standard of behavior so that learning could take place. Requiring students to conduct themselves accordingly was not bowing to authority as much as it was common courtesy and good manners, and allowing the teacher the latitude to enforce same with appropriate guidance from admin (gotta get those levels of bureaucracy in there) and the parents would ensure safer schools and possibly higher grades.

Trouble is, my whole class (most of them were getting either a teaching degree or a pysch degree, imagine that) had not actually THOUGHT along those lines...and I don't teach outside my home.

Go figure. Miss L, I have said it before and I will say it again, I would LOVE for you to teach my children. Georgia has pretty decent schools and good admin support.

Posted by: Cricket at April 22, 2009 08:26 AM

I will now (somewhat sheepishly) share how much I paid for books AND curriculum from K-12: 7,000 dollars over 16 years of homeschooling. That covered initially one child from grade one through grade 11, but helped four more. The breakdown for books per child per year has been about 159.00. Some things will never change, such as nouns, verbs and so forth, and neither should history.

It is more cost effective to use what works than to reinvent the wheel based on what some liberal idiots on the Left Coast decide will be taught. Since California is one of the largest purchasers of texts in the US, Texas usually follows suit.

If you are a concerned parent, go to the school board meetings when the curriculum is being determined for the year and FIND OUT what your children will be reading and what will be taught.
You DO have some say and be prepared to back your words with action.

Posted by: Cricket at April 22, 2009 08:55 AM

Part of that 7 grand also covered replacements for the Saxon math spiral bound teacher's books and the meeting books. Saxon is not cheap, but it is one of the best.

Posted by: Cricket at April 22, 2009 08:59 AM

I homeschooled my daughter 4 grades in 3 years using BJU Press as my major source of education. When my daughter was a sophomore in public high school, she was having difficulty in one of her classes. And it was covering one of her favorite subject matters -- history. During the Parent-Teacher conference, which included the vice principle for some stupid reason, the teacher said, "Many of my students are struggling. If they keep struggling, I might decide to start using the text books."

I flipped out. The vice principle said many of his teachers (his teachers) teach without text books. And he trusts them. By the very fact they are teachers, they are experts. (Which means they know more than the parents and the parents need to get out of the way.) And I was thinking about how many experts in the field of education were in my county of 30,000 people. And I was thinking about the amount of education required to become an expert in education -- 5 years of college, 4 for short-term subs.

Education is by far the easiest track to expert status.

Posted by: John Hitchcock at April 22, 2009 09:45 AM

Education is by far the easiest track to expert status.

True. But maintaining that status should require a periodic examination of said expert to insure the expert has retained that knowledge since it was last absorbed, all thirsty sponge-like, at the figurative feet of the expert who mentored the expert.

Show me a teacher who teaches without constant reference to the requisite texts and I'll show you a teacher who has wasted the money the parents shelled out for those books.

And I'll show you a teacher who's probably winging it, to boot...

Posted by: Rocky "Gingko" Biloba at April 22, 2009 10:01 AM

About how knowledgeable teachers are: when I earned my teaching degree, I wasn't really taught content, but "how to teach" content. When I took the content area certification exam (for an elementary cert), I never studied social studies, science, math or language arts. I can say I had excellent scores on both my content area and pedagogy & professional responsibilities exams. Here in Texas, there is also a "4-8 Generalist" certification that would allow one to teach grades 4 through 8, but once you get past 5th grade, teachers are specialized, so you might have one teacher teaching a subject in which they have had no concentration study... However, for secondary education certifications, you have to have majored/minored in that subject area (e.g. - when my dad retired from the Army and went to college, he became certified to teach history and German, though I can't recall which was the major and which the minor).

And, for not using textbooks, some textbooks are really just crap... And teachers don't get to pick the textbooks they use. Here, at least, that is a decision that the district makes. Also, Texas doesn't necessarily follow California's lead in adopting textbooks. Textbooks companies make editions specifically for Texas - we are one of the largest textbook markets in the nation. Textbooks are supposed to support the curriculum required by the state: the Texas Essentials Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), which is broken down by grade level and subject area.

One other thing that teachers don't necessarily have control over is when they teach a particular concept. When I did my student teaching, I learned that the district, on top of having to follow the TEKS, also had their own curriculum guideline that say when you teach what. However, IMO, this "instructional planning guide" isn't aligned across the curriculum. When I started my student teaching assignment, the students were finishing up with biography in language arts. Shortly after I completed my student teaching assignment, they were going to be learning biography in social studies. It would be a much more efficient use of both the teacher's and students' time to teach biography cross-curriculum: teach it once, addressing both the social studies and language arts aspects of it...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at April 22, 2009 11:26 AM

"I'm sorry but just because you are low income, doesn't mean your brains are any more valuable than mine"

"I don't think that's really applicable to the voucher system since it isn't only poor students who are eligible for vouchers."

Because Juan Williams article was talking about low income blacks and hispanics.

I didn't have to have graduated from or attend a DC public school to know that there are public schools that fail our youth. Mine wasn't exactly top notch but it wasn't inner city either.

Bailing on public schools isn't any more of an answer than throwing more money at them. Holding people accountable would be a better place to start. Hiring quality people, not just warm bodies to fill a post, to teach and allowing them to do so without the litany of restraints now placed on educators to be able to uphold and maintain a safe learning environment would be great. Insisting that educators stick to the basics (reading, writing, arithmetic) instead of all the liberal agendas being thrown at students today would probably foster more focus and help generate a more educated and competitive individual.

This can be done regardless of whether there is money to allocate or not. When the money is cut off, what do you do? Stop trying to be better?

They got a raw deal by the powers that be not making good on the vouchers. Why they decided to do that I don't know and it's a shame not to have that opportunity provided for a little more easily but what I'm saying is to be better anyway.

Posted by: Red at April 22, 2009 11:37 AM

I certainly have no problem with Presidents and Congressmen - and even Business Barons - sending their kids to private school. Their money, their choice (and a good one, from the security standpoint).

I do have a problem with them denying us the same choice.

Somebody - somewhere - pointed out that the failure rate of public schools is pretty high. In some places, higher than others. In Los Angeles, there's close to a 50% dropout rate. If a business had the same failure rate, he said, they'd have been out of business a long time ago

Posted by: ZZMike at April 22, 2009 11:49 AM

Well, it used to be public schools were completely funded by the community they served, making them more responsive, I'm sure. I think we need to get back to something more like that...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at April 22, 2009 12:09 PM

The former mayor of Milwaukee (a Democrat, I believe) once said that all the parents that could afford school choice had already moved out of the city. That was the choice.

What's usually the content of most major "inner" city schools, are kids from single parent homes, with low emphasis on learning, who want to hit the streets by 8th or 9th grade (or sooner) because they are BORED. And probably rightly so. The majority see no future in going to school, becuase they aren't being prepared to do anything.

Some of the teachers in big city school systems are doing heroic work with the kids that our popular culture is doing its level best to destroy.
I've come to the conclusion that it's the culture, not the teachers or the school system, that is at fault for wrecking inner city schools (and other schools) and ruining the lives of countless children in the process.
I see kids across several suburban school districts in suburban Columbus that are doing fine, because
1) usually a two parent home
2) value place on education and decent behavior in school
3) expectations that they better achieve something in their lives
4) support for them to achieve something in their lives

Most or all of the above are missing in the lives of many kids in "inner city" school systems. The culture and the intellectuals that are behind it have terribly betrayed millions of people.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at April 22, 2009 12:48 PM

Don Brouhaha and Miss Ladybug make some great points.

ZZMike: While there is elitism in our government, I don't see them denying the public the choice of sending their children to private schools. They just aren't making it any easier. Which is, in a word, shitty.

Posted by: Red at April 22, 2009 12:52 PM

I wholly agree a large number of textbooks are rubbish and need thrown out. And the writers of those textbooks need to find new jobs in a new field. But teachers need to use textbooks.

Using handouts that may or may not follow any logical path doesn't cut it. Students can and do easily get lost in the swamp. The ability to actually study subject matter is practically curtailed and parental input is destroyed altogether.

It's like a construction contractor saying, "We're having a bit of difficulty and cost over-run building your house. If the trouble persists, I may resort to breaking out the blueprints."

Another issue I have with public education is an issue I came up against with my daughter's high school. Remember permission slips? They're now non-permission slips. "Take this slip home to your parents. If they don't want you involved in this next subject matter, have them sign the slip and bring it back in." So, the school can teach the child material that the parents object to without the parents even knowing.

The teacher excused her action weakly. "We have found it is much easier doing it this way because it is too difficult to get permission slips back. The students are too lazy to take the slips to their parents or the parents are too lazy to sign them." See how easy it is for the "better than thou" educators to get around the will of the parents when there is no direct accountability?

And vouchers are one way to make teachers accountable. The parents could vote with their feet, in a way. Otherwise, the children are held hostage by the all-too-powerful teachers unions and leftist power-brokers.

Posted by: John Hitchcock at April 22, 2009 01:29 PM

Miss L, when I started homeschooling California was the model..I am glad to see that it has changed, but not necessarily for the better, as you have pointed out.

I am struggling right now with my math text; already I have found four errors in one chapter and I know for DARN sure that negative six minus negative five is NOT negative twelve.

Not only that, steps are missing in regard to problem solving and the text itself is written for 'liberal arts majors who are not math majors.'
So, the assumption is that at some point in my academic life, I have been exposed to everything they are covering.

There is no glossary; no explanation of symbols and rules regarding the symbols in solving problems like radicals. Just the symbols are there as the rule itself.

While I can fill in the gaps with some excellent tutorial sites on the web, the price of the book alone should give me a free subscription to one!

Price considerations aside, the text should not have mistakes, especially if someone is new to this. Some of my classmates are; and they are upset because the mistakes in the text undermine their confidence in their ability to do the work.

Not good.

Posted by: Cricket at April 22, 2009 02:28 PM

"negative six minus negative five is NOT negative twelve."
Excerpted from the Scham's Outline to the Congressional Budget Office Mathematics for a New Progressive Dawn... ISBN: 1-10^19-(-545)*$5.00+∞

Posted by: Have-Sliderule-Will-Travel at April 22, 2009 03:19 PM

Miss Ladybug very nearly has it. You asked when it was that the fedgov needed to provide a private school education. The better question is since when is it the fedgov's job to provide a public education?

The only real difference is in who is managing the effort. The .gov doesn't seem to be doing a very good job so maybe it's time to fire them and choose a better vendor.

After all, we don't build our fighter jets from "public" factories. We, for all intents and purposes, fund private factories by outsourcing the job to Lockheed-Martin. Why then can we not outsource education?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at April 22, 2009 03:22 PM

Yu-Ain Gonnano,
Sounds good to me.

Posted by: Red at April 22, 2009 05:17 PM

We did...to the NEA. Oh, not the fine-arts idiots who put crucifixes in questionable fluids...but the National Education Association.
A union.

Posted by: Cricket at April 22, 2009 09:00 PM

Have-Sliderule-Will-Travel, I need to hire your rule. What is your fee and are you still based in San Franciso these days?

I learned how to use a slide rule in jr. high many years ago...that was kewl. Yer own manual calculator, supplemented by digital (fingers) add ons.

Posted by: Cricket at April 22, 2009 09:02 PM

I am a high school teacher. My degree is a 5 year degree in Kinesiology (aka Exercise and Sport Science) with a year of teacher education on top of my academic subjects. I have taught Health Education at high schools in Colorado, California, Alaska, and Hawaii. I have also been on the Curriculum Development committee in Alaska and worked to redesign the Health Sciences curriculum (PreK-12) for the state.

I have never used a textbook as anything other than a piece of reference material or a paperweight. Nor will I unless a drastic change takes place with regard to the quality of instruction that comes from the mainstream textbook manufacturers in this country.

Because not one that I have examined - and I have examined many - is worth a hill of beans. As a parent and an educator I would much rather have a class taught using handouts that follow a specified curriculum and have objectives that are designed around a strong set of benchmarks for each grade level rather than the crop that comes from the mainstream textbook manufacturers.

Limited parental input? I averaged more parents at Open House and Parent Teacher conferences than most other classes (aside from the AP classes - they always had the highest turnout) and fielded daily inquiries and input from parents with regard to not only their student but the curriculum, objectives, scope, and sequence of my course.

A good teacher is not only a subject matter expert but and expert in reaching students with that information. No textbook - at least none in the public school realm - that I've seen can do that.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at April 22, 2009 09:35 PM

I'm hopeful about my interview later today. Although it is with a Title I (read "low income") school, I've subbed there 3 times already (with 2 more days scheduled early next month), and the staff seem very friendly and helpful. One thing I like about this position, were it to be offered to me, is that it is with a smaller district. Less BS, I'm sure. This district was actually recommended to me by a teacher I knew from my student teaching - she was another third grade teacher, in the class across the pod. I bumped into her at the grocery store around the holidays. She left AISD for this other district. Attending this other district's substitute orientation, I already like what I see better. I'm really thinking, as far as education is concerned, smaller is better...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at April 23, 2009 02:29 AM

Good on ya, HF6, but my reference was to teaching the "hard" subjects -- as in, the information is known and set in concrete.

F'r instance, there will be no more works produced by Shakespeare, or Donne, or Kipling, and no teacher has the entire body of 18th Century French Lit memorized.

F'r 'nother instance, Aerodynamics requires introductory material in physics and geophysical science, which the student needs to read beforehand in order to follow the formal lesson.

F'r stella 'nother instance, you can't teach Gregorian chant without using a hymnal.

Yeah, I've taught all of those.

Bottom line is that an SME *should* teach with as little reference to his notes as possible, because that's the way to reach out and grab those eager minds thirsting for knowledge -- but the SME must also be able to justify and prove the truth of the information he's presenting.

That said, if I were teaching American History, I'd probably spend most of my time showing why the text the school board insisted on using was politically-correct bullsh*t.

Posted by: BillT at April 23, 2009 02:42 AM

Oooh. I wanna be in Mr T.'s class!

With regard to teaching mathematics, I finished going through the text last night. I would have hurled it against the wall, but I want the money back.

The book skips around and is inconsistent in that regard. Ferinstance, chapter 2 discussess decimals, fractions and multiplication, then goes on in chapter three to elements and groups. Chapter four deals with numeration systems, five goes into elements of algebra, with six continuing numeration systems with clock math and modular math. Seven goes back to algebra, 8 starts with geometric graphing (thanks, Descartes), and nine is consumer math (going back to decimals, fractions, percents and algebra).

Not only that, I double checked the answers at the back of the chapter for the exercises, and at least three were incorrect. There are also skipped steps in some of the presentations, which adds to the frustration instead of enhancing the learning experience.

A good teacher, if forced to take such a text, would take it apart and reorder the text so that knowledge and ability is built on a foundation so that the student sees continuity. There is a reason why pedagogy is taught in teacher's training.

California did one thing right; the high school teachers were required to have a major in their core subject and a minor in a secondary subject in order to be able to either substitute or help structure another class.

So, my English teacher, who graduated from UCLA with a BA in English, majored in American Lit and got a minor in American History. She team taught an AP class in American History where we read everything from Bradford to the Harlem poets.

My next AP class was taught by a Harvard graduate who had a Master's in British Literature with a major in Medieval/Renaissance Literature, so we covered Beowulf through John Bunyan. She was the most demanding grammarian and spell checker I have ever had. No one dared go to her class without their homework finished and one item memorized per week.

Because of her, I sought out Jane Austen and other British authors and rediscovered classics from childhood such as A.A. Milne and P.L. Travers in my post high school days. An education, a good one, doesn't just enrich the person who gets it...it can bless generations.

As an example, reading to your children. Having them tell the story back to you. Writing it down.
Discussing ideas from the story.

Posted by: Cricket at April 23, 2009 09:25 AM

Well HFS,
Sounds like you do have a textbook, it just doesn't look pretty, isn't bound by hardcover, and not printed by a major publishing house.

My completely uninformed opinion thinks that given your experience in Curriculum Dev you have a pretty decent chance at rectifying the last (then they'll take care of the first two).

*Hint, Hint* :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at April 23, 2009 09:25 AM

What's that math curriculum Michelle Malkin has touted that is supposed to be really good? I can't recall the name of it at the moment...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at April 23, 2009 09:19 PM

HF6 -- Yu-Ain's got a Very Good Idea, and that didn't occur to me because all the classes I've written became Army property or Employer's Proprietary Info, which said Employer uses to show new clients the quality of the material they can expect. Hint: household budget enhancement.

Cricket -- I've used quotes from literature in my Aerodynamics and Advanced Instrument Flight classes, but I haven't figured out how to introduce Gregorian chant to the Iraqis -- they're mostly Phil Collins fans, although one of 'em has the complete discography of Engelbert Humperdinck...

Posted by: BillT at April 24, 2009 07:01 AM