Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Impossible Education Dream

From Cleveland.com:
EAST CLEVELAND — An unused four-story building on GE's Nela Park campus in East Cleveland sprang back to life Monday as a pioneering public high school.
...
STEM techniques teach critical thinking and other skills that rank high on Strickland's new education agenda. The Cleveland schools are the first in a wave of STEM initiatives that the governor hopes to continue, spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said.

MC2 STEM will add a grade in each of the next three school years. Tenth-graders will attend classes in another yet-to-be-announced corporate setting. Juniors will study somewhere downtown and work internships. Seniors will take courses at Cleveland State University and Case Western Reserve University.
Typical educrat scam: cherry pick students for a model school, then pretend the model can be scaled out to the entire district. It's past time to quit pretending that we're one bizzaro idea away from turning every student in inner city America into a rocket scientist and instead focus on making sure that there are viable employment opportunities that meet the skill sets of the vast majority of students that come out of those districts.

At this point we've been trying to find that magic, bizzaro idea for forty years, so I doubt that the outlook will change soon. The fact that Ohio's governor recently said that everyone would need their masters degree is only icing on the cake.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Genius commentary...but a salient point is missing: None of these students were "cherry picked". To the contrary - this school has an open enrollment that allows students of *all* abilities to attend. Further, as a public school it cannot remove students for cause any more than any other CMSD school.

In terms of being able to scale the model, wait for the results before judging. What if an all - year "project - based" program seems to work? Would it be so hard to implement on a larger scale? If "doing" instead of "listening" helps to create academic success, wouldn't it be something to think about?

"Bizzaro" is following a model that focuses on measuring success by 'words' and not deeds. If we can educate our children in an environment where they demonstrate learning by actions, shouldn't it be given a chance?

...and if skill sets are what define education, then we should go back to defining the professions of our children at first grade - labor skills or 'thinking' skills. One set off to the shops and the other set off to study Shakespeare.

Honestly - 'viable' employment opportunities are being re-defined daily by the global marketplace. Why not teach our children to problem - solve and think as opposed to developing 'skills' (like sheet - metal work or welding, I suppose?) that will be obsolete before the next governor?

As I said: genius commentary!

Evil Sandmich said...

They kick out students who don't work out in that environment, students who have already had to make an effort to get into the program to begin with. Setting up filters and hurdles allows the students to be cherry picked just as sure as if the administrators walked through the schools and handpicked the attendees.

I forgot to point out that it's not that I don't think that such students deserve a better shot at success, it's just the idea cannot be scaled out to the entire East Cleveland education system.

If our economy is based around the idea that everyone can make it through such a system, then we'll have a great number of people living hand to mouth and/or surviving on government handouts; rather than actively contributing to society.

"As I said: genius commentary!"

No match for your biting wit!

Anonymous said...

Re: Kicking out students who "don't work out in that environment"...from what I've learned, only a handful (4 to 6) students have actually been "kicked out" - and these were all for fighting. This is actually *less* than the expulsion per capita of CMSD or East Cleveland.

Re: Had to "make an effort" to get into the program....the only effort required was to pass 8th grade (or 'get promoted' in today's system) and get picked from a lottery (more than 80% of those who applied were picked from what I understand). No effort required...just apply and 4/5 show upfor class.

Therefore the "filters and hurdles" argument fails. No cherry - picking, no handpicked students by administrators (actually, there is only one administrator).

Naturally, I don't doubt that you believe that all students deserve a chance at success...you wouldn't be taking the time to comment on it if you didn't care.

The point is that we need to wait for real, measurable, objective results before we can pass judgment. (BTW - this is a program that includes all of Cleveland *and* 'first ring' districts including East Cleveland. 80% of the kids are from CMSD - the rest are from East Cleveland and other districts).

Regarding your comments about an economy that believes that everyone can make it through such a system and people living "hand to mouth", I sincerely don't understand the point. I'm not being coy...I just don't fully understand what you are trying to say.

The fact of the matter is that we now live in a *global* economy...and that China has more Honors Students than we have students. Our objective should be to produce as many competent learners as we can...and let the markets decide who survives and who does not. If we produce 40% more engineers and scientists, we won't even be scratching the surface of what we need to lead as a global market player...why not tap into an untapped resource to do so?


Lastly, I concede that my "wit" (or lack thereof, I admit) was a bit 'biting'...but it got attention - and now there is a real conversation going on (which is more than I can say for 99.99% of the blogs out there).

Yours is one of the good ones...even if we disagree on some finer points of our local schools!

Evil Sandmich said...

Yours is one of the good ones...

You must not read a lot of blogs, or the internet is a bigger, depressing pit than I imagined.

This is actually *less* than the expulsion per capita of CMSD or East Cleveland.

That tells me right there that the kids showing up at this school are not the ones in the regular system.

...and that China has more Honors Students than we have students

It's always interesting that adherents of educational reform always bring up national educational success stories in China, Korea, Japan, Finland, etc. but never nations that are south of our border or anywhere in Africa, puzzling, no?

...why not tap into an untapped resource to do so?

Chinese Engineers? Human nature simply can't be overcome with programs like this. Steve Sailer (from whom I have mooched copious amounts from, poorly for the most part) has pointed out that Mexicans, who are by far the largest number of non-citizens in America, don't even make the top 20 [in patent applications]: Chinese & Taiwanese are first, followed by India, Canada, UK, Germany, France and Russia. Heck, Turkey makes the top 20, and there are hardly any Turks in America. But not Mexico (or any other Latin American country).

It sounds bad to say, but I have fourty years of fail to back up my argument (remember forced desegregation busing?), while the other side only has their flavor of the month edu-gimic that will either serve to make the successful even more successful (an admirable goal all on its own), or will be quietly abandoned when it’s been shown that it’s scalability is limited to non-existent.

I sincerely don't understand the point. I'm not being coy...I just don't fully understand what you are trying to say.

I mean making stuff. There are probably no more than a handful of countries with the natural resources that the United States has, but our elites and their enablers have determined that they’d rather have a mall instead of a steel mill, a bike path instead of a rail line, and 100% clean air and a handful of McJobs rather than 99.99% clean air and numerous low skill, higher paying jobs (though not all manufacturing jobs are low skill to be sure). In short, they’d rather live in an American themed boutique than an actual country where people can earn a decent living and are able to support their family with the skills that God gave them. In my mind that would include everything from a machine operator (lower skill) to a machinist (much higher skill). In fact the dearth of talented machinists is every bit a mark against our productivity as a nation today as any perceived issues with our lack of scientific doctorates.

I apologize for my short responses, but I don’t want to feel like I’m repeating myself. Other posts along these lines:
http://sandmich.blogspot.com/2007/01/education-and-iq.html
http://sandmich.blogspot.com/2006/07/apple-day.html
http://sandmich.blogspot.com/2005/12/race-in-shaker-heights.html
http://sandmich.blogspot.com/2005/11/flight-of-intellectually-lazy.html

Steve Sailer (his stuff is uniformly better than anything I write):
http://isteve.blogspot.com/2009/02/bill-gates-ruined-my-daughters-high.html
http://isteve.blogspot.com/2009/02/bad-schooling-ideas-never-die.html
A sample:
This is an example of a general rule: Although the K-12 education industry is obsessed with promoting "new methodologies" (i.e., panacea-of-the-month), there aren't any. Schooling is an old, old business, and just about everything has been tried before, and proven not to be the miracle breakthrough that was hoped for.

Anonymous said...

"This is actually *less* than the expulsion per capita of CMSD or East Cleveland.

That tells me right there that the kids showing up at this school are not the ones in the regular system."


OR, it suggests that the school faculty are able to better manage the students and engage them in education!



"...and that China has more Honors Students than we have students

It's always interesting that adherents of educational reform always bring up national educational success stories in China, Korea, Japan, Finland, etc. but never nations that are south of our border or anywhere in Africa, puzzling, no?"


ummm, no....my point was about *population* and our need to become competitive with a nation of more than 1,000,000,000 people who are rapidly becoming as educated (if not more so) as we are.


"Chinese Engineers? Human nature simply can't be overcome with programs like this. Steve Sailer (from whom I have mooched copious amounts from, poorly for the most part) has pointed out that Mexicans, who are by far the largest number of non-citizens in America, don't even make the top 20 [in patent applications]: Chinese & Taiwanese are first, followed by India, Canada, UK, Germany, France and Russia. Heck, Turkey makes the top 20, and there are hardly any Turks in America. But not Mexico (or any other Latin American country)."


I won't comment on this directly (because of the inference)...human nature? Perhaps you might consider some additional schooling yourself (including human DNA and the impact that genetic makeup has on neurochemical makeup and behavior such as motivation, intelligence, learning ability and capacity, and general performance potential).


"I mean making stuff. There are probably no more than a handful of countries with the natural resources that the United States has, but our elites and their enablers have determined that they’d rather have a mall instead of a steel mill, a bike path instead of a rail line, and 100% clean air and a handful of McJobs rather than 99.99% clean air and numerous low skill, higher paying jobs (though not all manufacturing jobs are low skill to be sure). In short, they’d rather live in an American themed boutique than an actual country where people can earn a decent living and are able to support their family with the skills that God gave them. In my mind that would include everything from a machine operator (lower skill) to a machinist (much higher skill). In fact the dearth of talented machinists is every bit a mark against our productivity as a nation today as any perceived issues with our lack of scientific doctorates."


I couldn't agree with you more...let's get more people with *HIGH SCHOOL* Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics educations so that they will be able to learn to become machinists, pipe fitters, electricians, tool and die makers, sheet metal workers, iron workers, and carpenters AS WELL AS engineers, physicians, nurses, scientists, architects, and researchers. The last time that I checked, HIGH SCHOOL level Science, Technology, Engineering (trade skills), and Mathematics were critical for ALL such careers.

In case you didn't notice, this means less focus on "Literature", "Art", "Domestic Science (Home Economics)", "Women's Studies", "Health and Human Development", etc. While these subjects may appeal to some, the Meat and Potatoes for our nation's success will be MATH, SCIENCE, READING AND WRITING, and (to a lesser extent) Technology (Computers and Networks), Social Studies, and (possibly) Foreign Languages.



"A sample:
This is an example of a general rule: Although the K-12 education industry is obsessed with promoting "new methodologies" (i.e., panacea-of-the-month), there aren't any. Schooling is an old, old business, and just about everything has been tried before, and proven not to be the miracle breakthrough that was hoped for."


Ignorance - pure and simple. Read about some of the latest medical (note that I didn't say "psychological", "education", or "social science") research on "brain - based learning". New methods in neuroimaging have allowed researchers to actually *see* changes in the brain that occur when different learning methods are employed. As a result, they have been able to develop techniques that not only show (via imaging) that optimal learning is happening, but support the results through assessments (tests, etc) *after* the learning has happening using the specific new technique. This is science, pure and simple. See (directly, in the brain) what is working and use it...otherwise, discard what doesn't work. Guess what? A lot of what has been used in the past is still the "gold standard" (and it has been proven using these imaging techniques), but there are a number of "new" methods that have been proven down the the synaptic level in the brain to be effective... and these *should* be employed.

The "just about everything has been tried" is as ignorant a comment about education as I have ever heard. What if this comment was applied to medicine? Engineering? In fact, this applies to almost *NO* field if only for the reason that technology continues to evolve and as it does it *touches* nearly every field.

Believe it or not, I too am a conservative who appreciates some of the places where these arguments are coming from...but the reality is that there is good reason to support (and actually expect useful results) from some experimental educational methods.

This school is (without question) one of them! It directly ties students to a *real world* company engaged in honest - to goodness American enterprise. There are enough companies out there willing to support our education system directly (as opposed to letting bureaucrats do all of it using, in part, tax dollars paid by said company) that this model *is* scalable.

Think about it...we're talking about students spending at least some time (a few hours per week) actually learning "on the job" skills of real professionals and tradesmen.

If you can't believe that American companies and employees being directly involved (in part) in education (as opposed to letting local government leaders drive the whole thing), then I can't imagine *what* you think would better prepare students to function once they leave high school or college.

Evil Sandmich said...

My final comment (for now) on this is here:
http://sandmich.blogspot.com/2009/03/edu-after-action-notes.html