Friday, June 09, 2006

perceived myths in education

Okay, the book I was complaining about yesterday: Education Myths... by Jay P. Greene. (p.s. did you know educators get a 20% discount at b&n?)

Education practitioners, such as teachers, school administrators, and professors at education schools, are not necessarily reliable judges of an education policy's merits...[they] lack the proper perspective to assess questions of policy.

In his introduction, he devotes a bit of time trying to explain why people directly involved in education are poor judges of what works and what doesn't. He tries to say that we're too biased by our own "interests". I'm pretty sure one of my major interests is doing the best job I possibly can educating my students. So, wouldn't one of my main goals be trying to find the best ways to do so?

The first myth he attempts to dispel is the "myth" that more funding for schools means a more quality education. (also in this chapter he cites his own research after calling others with agendas biased...hmmm). He cites a whole lot of research saying schools get more money than they used to...that students haven't changed that much in the past thirty years...that increasing spending in education doesn't actually affect output. He even "dispels the myth" of the gap between spending in suburban vs. urban schools. Obviously a school without books can function just as well as a school with eight computer labs (note the hint of sarcasm).

I agree with him in that we are spending more than enough money on education; however, when one school can afford several golf carts to carry football players on and off the field, while another can't even afford books, there's a problem. Schools are adequately funded, but the money isn't distributed very well.
As to his assertion that the amount of money going into a school doesn't affect performance: duh. I agree there comes a point where it doesn't matter anymore (for example, will students learn more with $10,000 rather than $8,000 per student? probably not); however, tell the schools who can't afford to pay their teachers competitive salaries that spending doesn't affect education. And tell the schools who can't even afford the core classes, let alone the arts and extracurriculars that spending doesn't affect education.

I'm more incensed by this chapter than anything else. While I do believe Greene brings up several points that must be addressed (the idea of dispersing the funding, how much is too much?, etc.), I think he is a man with little or no experience in education who really doesn't fully understand what is going on. He looks at the facts and statistics, but he looks at them as a national average. When you look at facts in that way, it appears to be balanced; however, that's because there are schools that have money coming out their nose...then there are schools who are holding classes in a rollerskating rink because the building is falling apart (this is a fact he actually mentioned in this chapter).

I still have many more "myths" to read through, but I have to stop for now. I can only handle so much of the pompous, know-all attitude.


Anonymous said...

"I think he is a man with little or no experience in education who really doesn't fully understand what is going on"

Check his bio and C.V....not exactly stupid.

the anonymous teacher said...

I apologize. I didn't word that correctly. He seems to be a man with little or no practical experience in education. I never once said he was stupid. I simply meant that reasearching education is one thing, but actually having classroom or real life education experience is another.

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Now don't throw your book at me but I do feel that we do get emotionally involved with opinions from time to time because we are so close to the problems and we are so emotionally attached to what we do. That being said I do agree with you that sometimes education policy researchers and policy makers talk down to us. How can we ever get respect for what we do if the very people who research education don't respect our opinion? Now I'm frustrated...give me that book and I'll throw it. :)

Dennis Fermoyle said...

Anonymous, you put me to shame. I barely got started on this book, and then I got involved in other things. Now you're well into it. Great post, though, and you've inspired me. I promise to finish the book in the next week.

And my the way, when it comes to defending public education, who needs me when we've got Anonymous?!?! (Actually we need as many of us as we can get!)

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

This intrigues me. If I can keep my eyes oopen for longer than 15 minutes, I'll start this book, too.