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School vouchers and the religious subversion of church-state separation - Comments

Stephen of Wimbledon's Avatar Comment 1 by Stephen of Wimbledon

Is it really true that parents must have a choice in the education of their children?

As a parent I have the unenviable job of choosing between state schools that have open admission policies - and trying to work out which is the best fit for my child.

But other than that:

  • Do I have the right to demand, and if so why so?

  • Am I the ultimate consumer of education - or is it society at large - or is it the child?

  • Why are schools different from each other?

  • It may be that we will never get a level playing field between schools - but we can try.

    In the meantime isn't this choice thing a sideshow? It seems to me that it is. What's really needed is that we decide, together, what we are supplying and paying for when we talk about education. Are we getting the best bang for our buck?

    What do we want to achieve with education, and what are we giving the next generation? What are the challenges we are preparing them to address, and what do we need to teach - as opposed to simply letting them learn? What mistakes have we seen that we don't want to repeat?

    What is education for ... ?

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 13:33:13 UTC | #937208

    tll's Avatar Comment 2 by tll

    I just don't get the Americans!!

    They produce excellent educational television station's such as Discovery, A/E, National Geographic, History etc, all available even in the bible belt. It's almost impossible to watch a documentary without hearing 50,000 years ago or 10 million years ago or 100's of millions...

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 15:20:49 UTC | #937236

    KJinAsia's Avatar Comment 3 by KJinAsia

    Education is infrastructure. It's like roads and bridges. When managed at the bigger level (national rather than local) it fosters bottom up development, a levelling of the playing field allowing talent to flourish. Needless to say, when standards to reflect reality, the outcomes are more positive.

    The right wing argument for parental control of educational content is hubris at best, negligence at worst. Expertise trumps parental prejudice.

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 15:20:51 UTC | #937237

    prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 4 by prettygoodformonkeys

    In Canada you can home-school your children and receive a regular check from the government to do it with. It is mostly used used by the religious to shield their children from a secular education, especially in the early years.

    Religious schools are funded also, because they 'take pressure off the school system', and have good results; they have 'good results' because they are free to screen applicants, which puts pressure ON the public system while draining resources from it to promote their superstition.

    Neither of these options promote critical thinking nor do they teach the best of what we have learned about reality, about how the universe works and what we know about our place in it, our origins.

    It enrages me that my taxes go to help this happen!

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 15:29:11 UTC | #937239

    KJinAsia's Avatar Comment 5 by KJinAsia

    Education is infrastructure. It's like roads and bridges. When managed at the bigger level (national rather than local) it fosters bottom up development, a levelling of the playing field allowing talent to flourish. Needless to say, when standards to reflect reality, the outcomes are more positive.

    The right wing argument for parental control of educational content is hubris at best, negligence at worst. Expertise trumps parental prejudice.

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 15:54:05 UTC | #937244

    SheerReason's Avatar Comment 6 by SheerReason

    Comment 2 by tll :

    I just don't get the Americans!!

    They produce excellent educational television station's such as Discovery, A/E, National Geographic, History etc, all available even in the bible belt. It's almost impossible to watch a documentary without hearing 50,000 years ago or 10 million years ago or 100's of millions...

    That was so 12 years ago or more... Now the discovery channel dedicates most of its programming to reality tv series like "American Chopper", "American Guns", "Deadliest Catch", "Auction Kings", "Sons of Guns" and the like. This channel hasn't been interesting since its inception... probably the last bit of decent programming was done in the early 90s... with a few exceptions in the late 90s and early 2000s when they produced some documentaries on Dinosaurs... Early Humans and such.

    National Geographic still has a high rating for educational programming in my opinion.

    The History channel though has gone from the "History of 20th century warfare" to a channel not all that different from Discovery channel these days with lots of reality shows like "Pawn Stars", "American Pickers", "American Restoration", "Top Shot", and "Sold!"... They also dedicate a lot of programming time to UFOlogy and Biblical Aliens etc. Tinfoil hat kind of stuff.

    The other science channels are heading in the same direction... reality tv and little to pique one's intellectual curiosity.

    It's sad... Television in the United States and everywhere for that matter is just brain-dead fluff for the masses... you're better off reading some good books or seeking out documentaries on your own.

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 16:01:21 UTC | #937248

    achromat666's Avatar Comment 7 by achromat666

    So the choice boils down to being willfully ignorant and passing that on to your children as truth. That is in no way a choice.

    This only illustrates the urgent need for a comprehensive educational reform and one that focuses on giving future generations what they need to know to function in society and compete in this already difficult market. You accomplish that by educating about what is, not what you think your kids should believe. A factual critically thinking educational base is the key to giving a child the tools to succeed.

    Fact over faith.

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 16:27:51 UTC | #937253

    DrDroid's Avatar Comment 8 by DrDroid

    The USA was founded by people who had a profound distrust of government and were strong supporters of freedom and the right of people to make their own choices. I subscribe to that general principle myself, and so I find that I am conflicted on the education issue.

    Like most everyone else (I imagine) who regularly reads this website, I am a strong proponent of science and opposed to the teaching of pseudo-science and religiously-motivated ideas in schools. But the question is: Who "owns" children and has the right to decide what schools they go to and what they are taught? Is it the parents or the State? If it is the parents how/why does the State have the right to override their choices? If it is the State is there danger of slipping over the line protecting the freedoms of citizens? In the USA secularists fall back on the constitutional separation of Church and State to oppose the use of public education money to teach Creationism, for example. But what do secularists do in countries that do not have constitutional separation of Church of State? (If I remember correctly the UK falls in this catgeory). In such countries (democracy presumed) secularists must simply try to convince citizens and lawmakers that the teaching of religiously-motivated ideas is simply wrong (though not illegal or non-constituional).

    Drilling down even further one can ask if there should be "public education" at all? I certainly am in favor of an educated citizenry, but given the poor track record of public schools (speaking here of the USA), is government-funded education the best way to achieve an educated citizenry? Would it be better to let private schools, paid for by the parents themselves, provide education? And if you fear that some parents might choose to not send their children to school, yes that can happen (my own father received only 3 years of elemntary school education because his father thought school was a waste of time). Then might you be in favor of tax-supported vouchers issued to parents that can only be used to buy their childrens' education?

    I'm trying to sort out these conflicting issues in my own mind and would like to hear your thoughts.

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 17:03:30 UTC | #937263

    drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 9 by drumdaddy

    Religions are sucking the taxpayers dry in so many ways. End the grand larceny.

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 17:20:29 UTC | #937268

    achromat666's Avatar Comment 10 by achromat666

    Comment 8 by DrDroid,

    From wikipedia:

    State schools, also known in Scotland, the United States and Canada as public schools,[note 1] generally refer to primary or secondary schools mandated for or offered to all children by the government, whether national, regional, or local, provided by an institution of civil government, and paid for, in whole or in part, by state taxes. The term may also refer to institutions of post-secondary education funded, in whole or in part, and overseen by government.

    This isn't a simple question of parents poking their head in and changing the whole curriculum. This is an education for students of many different cultural backgrounds instituted by government, so the idea of catering it to a specific culture and not focusing on the core aspects of education (mathematics, science, english, etc) doesn't fly.

    It doesn't mean the parent has no say in their child's development in school, but leaves no room for a family of any one faith to make demands that faith be taught. That the governing institutions are not providing adequate education does not follow that the parent control the education, indeed it points to a reformation in the system this country has been in need of for decades. The fear of private education is the lack of being answerable in regards to curriculum and doesn't by default guarantee a better education, even if it is better funded. So if anything a balance of some sort needs to be struck coinciding with the aforementioned overhauling of the system.

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 17:57:32 UTC | #937274

    raghu_mani's Avatar Comment 11 by raghu_mani

    Let me be the lone voice of dissent here. While I am not sold on vouchers, I am pretty much convinced that choice is necessary.

    Here's a little background on myself. I was born and raised in India but have lived in the US for the past 20+ years and have been a US citizen for the last 6. Politically, I lean strongly Democrat and have no religious beliefs whatsoever. I generally find myself taking the Democrat/liberal view on most issues but education is one issue that finds me squarely in the middle. I do not like the Democratic party line on education and while I find myself leaning towards several Republican policies, I do not trust their motives one bit.

    Back to school choice - I see several problems with the US public education system. I won't list them all but two of the biggest are 1. Teachers are not evaluated on merit - your seniority plus the number of degrees you have are the sole determinants of your salary. Bad teachers are thus virtually impossible to get rid of. 2. There is a huge bureaucracy that sucks up most of the money that should be going to school infrastructure and teacher salaries. The fact that this is a monopoly does not help - there is absolutely no incentive to change. The only way things are going to improve is if there is some competition. If you can afford it, there is always the private school option. I have been lucky in that I have sufficient financial means and my kids have been in both public as well as private schools.

    However, people who cannot afford private school are typically limited to the school assigned to them because of the zip code in which they live. If that school happens to be terrible their children's education will suffer. The only way out for these people are charter schools and vouchers - both of which are far from perfect. Still, you get only one chance to educate your kids and if the charter school or the voucher is going to give your kid a better chance, you are going to take it. I'm pretty sure everyone posting here would do the same were they faced with such a situation.

    Finally, one word about religious schools. Just because a school is Christian does not mean it is going to start teaching junk science. Most parochial education in the US is Catholic and, if the Catholic schools in my area are anything to go by, they have very high science standards. A lot of Indians I know (most of whom are not Christian) put their kids in Catholic schools because of the quality of education they receive. They don't like it that their kid has to sit through a religion class every day but they are willing to put up with it because of the other benefits they get.

    I consider myself a very strong supporters of charters. Yes, I am aware that not all charters are good but a lot of them give poor kids a far better educational option than their district school. My only complaint with charters is that the bad ones are not getting shut down quickly enough. I am a lot less sure of vouchers. The biggest fear I have of vouchers is not that they will be used to put kids in Catholic schools - it is that every Christian denomination under then sun will try starting their own schools and a lot of them could end up teaching creationism or worse. Still, an intelligently designed voucher law could help in this regard - so there are some voucher proposals I could get behind.

    In the end, I think it is paramount that the country provide all kids a quality education and if public schools cannot be made to work, all other options - including charters and vouchers should be tried.

  • RM
  • Wed, 25 Apr 2012 18:22:37 UTC | #937280

    Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 12 by Stafford Gordon

    'Choice' when uttered by a politician becomes a weasel word.

    Apropos of hospitals, for instance, my choice would be, indeed is, that they should be equally excellent throughout the land, and I shouldn't have to make a choice as to which one I want to go to.

    Quite simple really, but that's not how or why they employ that word, they do so to make the electorate think that they can bring about things which they cannot, in order to get re-elected.

    Hitherto, these kind of individuals would have done service in the forces, or in deprived areas, and believe in the principle of contributing to society. But nowadays they believe in self-aggrandizement, long lunches with sticky drinks, and sucking up to media moguls; they're 'media monkeys', and they line their pockets into the bargain.

    The whole thing stinks, but we are obliged to vote, because people have sacrificed their lives for our right to do so.

    End of rant.

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 18:58:51 UTC | #937292

    The Big Holey Cheese's Avatar Comment 13 by The Big Holey Cheese

    I appreciate this is principally related to the American School system however there is a similar issue here also.

    We saw the reality of choice this week when "choosing" a school for our child. Living in walking distance to the nearest school we "chose" that school on the basis that there was no reason to believe it wasn't acceptable in terms of standards and had the added benefit in that it was our local school.

    Unfortunately it appears that others exercising their choice to travel additional distances to reach this particular school over their own local school have overridden our choice to stay local and thus we are now accepted to "our second" choice school which was only a second choice at all because it was necessary to make a choice in the first place and then make an order of choices. So now we have to travel to a school much further away and presumably pass those traveling in the opposite direction to our local school.

    There was one other school in the immediate locality much closer than the second choice but that was a Catholic School so not really a choice at all there. Of course it still enjoys my tax contributions via its state funding, we just can't access it without swallowing the church pill. (a lot of people in the area do this and are frantically attending church for the first time since their wedding just to get the kids into school, in fact they probably frantically attended church prior to the wedding for the first time since... well the point is made)

    So choice is ultimately something that those with influence can exercise and for the rest of us to believe we have but really haven't. It's kind of like a faith!

    Just make all schools achieve suitable standards and stop the psuedo-choice and flitting the kids around. It should be possible to attend your local school and be confident it will deliver a quality education. Oh and turn over those 1/3rd of state funded church schools back to their localities.

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 20:00:23 UTC | #937320

    Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 14 by Alan4discussion

    Comment 11 by raghu_mani

    However, people who cannot afford private school are typically limited to the school assigned to them because of the zip code in which they live. If that school happens to be terrible their children's education will suffer. The only way out for these people are charter schools and vouchers - both of which are far from perfect.

    This need not be the only choice. In the UK children can apply to any school which has available places, listing preferences in order. - Although traditionally priority has been given to local children, politicians have been messing about lately.

    Obviously there is more choice in cities than in remote areas where travelling distances are greater.

    There is also the issue that high performing popular schools rapidly fill up, but nevertheless, there is information available on standards, specialisms available, and inspection reports.

    Poor schools should of course be sorted out, and that is where political efforts should be directed.

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 21:39:44 UTC | #937344

    Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 15 by Alan4discussion

    Comment 12 by Stafford Gordon

    'Choice' when uttered by a politician becomes a weasel word.

    It reminds me of the UK Heath Government decision to relax the building regulations, so that unqualified people could have a wider choice, and "enterprising builders" could get on with the job, "without being hampered by red tape"!

    The rent-a-shack developments (including tower blocks and housing estates with leaking shed roofs) which followed, cost £millions to make fit for use later, with many being demolished long before the end of their planned life-span.

    I think some banking regulations were also relaxed by various politicians!

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 21:50:15 UTC | #937345

    frax71's Avatar Comment 16 by frax71

    @ Comment 14 by Alan4discussion

    I live in Bristol in the UK and there is a well known CofE (or it is in Bristol) school which has never simply taken on children from the local area it has always cast it's net far and wide and has done for years. Is this commonplace for faith schools ? and if so why ?

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 21:51:48 UTC | #937346

    TeraBrat's Avatar Comment 17 by TeraBrat

    Let's say parents use taxpayer vouchers to send their kids to private religious schools that teach them that the earth is 6000 years old.

    1. That is not unconstitutional because the government isn't mandating that the children be sent to a specific school.

    2. The kids who have a brain will figure it out, and those that don't won't no matter where you send them.

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 22:10:23 UTC | #937350

    jmacarth's Avatar Comment 18 by jmacarth

    'Choice' versus equality of opportunity. Government funding for public schools which provide a quality education is key to a society with informed citizens and good public health. if parents want to opt out of the public system then they should pay fully for their child's education.

    Wed, 25 Apr 2012 23:15:56 UTC | #937365

    Sara's Avatar Comment 19 by Sara

    Raghu Mani says "Teachers are not evaluated on merit - your seniority plus the number of degrees you have are the sole determinants of your salary. Bad teachers are thus virtually impossible to get rid of."

    Do you think experience and advanced degrees do not usually make someone a better teacher? Doctor? scientist?

    How do you propose evaluating teachers on "Merit?" Current, misguided policies in the US include using students' standardized test scores as up to 50% of a teacher's evaluation. So if a teacher has students with educated, motivated parents, they are evaluated positively. But a teacher will be evaluated poorly even though they are putting in much more work trying to educate kids who frequently miss school, are hungry, are never read to at home and never go on educational family outings because their parents are crack-heads. More likely they don't even know who their father is.

    You are wrong to say the bad teachers can't be gotten rid of. Happens all the time, through due process. I hope you're not against that.

    Thu, 26 Apr 2012 00:25:28 UTC | #937375

    QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 20 by QuestioningKat

    but given the poor track record of public schools (speaking here of the USA), is government-funded education the best way to achieve an educated citizenry?

    If you look at the published statistics (annually in the greater city newspaper) you see a clear trend. The top schools are from wealthier communities. These schools have: higher test scores, a higher rate of graduation, higher rate of future college attendance, higher per pupil expenditure, lower teacher and student absence rate, less violence, less incidents of teacher's being assaulted, higher literacy rates, parents are more educated, parents are more involved, and have higher expectations and demands on the school district.

    By the way, schools in the US are funded locally. A wealthier district will have more money from local residential property taxes. A poorer or middle class community that is located in an area with many businesses will have the benefit of receiving tax money from these establishments. Yet, test scores will reflect the overall socioeconomic status of the community. For instance, a middle class district will have standardized test scores that are "middle-of-the-road" even if the district has the second highest per pupil expenditure in the state. The same holds true for lower income communities and lower middle class ones. Basically, if you can list the wealthiest communities to the poorest communities, that list would be the same for best districts to worst districts.

    Considering this, it is my opinion that parenting and the level of family wealth (overall) determines the type of education a child will have. If you have a child whose parents are against science, the apple will not fall far from the tree. If you give an uneducated, low income parent the option of where to educate the child, chances are they will not choose wisely and further limit the child. Even if the parent chooses wisely, if the parent does not better themselves and view education as important, the child is set up for failure. However, I do feel that an ambitious child can overcome their current family life and they need to be exposed to a quality education that includes science (and the arts :-D)

    Thu, 26 Apr 2012 01:08:50 UTC | #937377

    raghu_mani's Avatar Comment 21 by raghu_mani

    Comment 19 by Sara

    Do you think experience and advanced degrees do not usually make someone a better teacher? Doctor? scientist?

    Not necessarily. Experience can help, as can advanced degrees but you cannot just accept them blindly without looking at anything else. An older experienced teacher can be burnt out, unmotivated, just going through the motions. In the end, there is no substitute for actually looking at how they actually perform in the classroom.

    How do you propose evaluating teachers on "Merit?" Current, misguided policies in the US include using students' standardized test scores as up to 50% of a teacher's evaluation. So if a teacher has students with educated, motivated parents, they are evaluated positively.evaluated positively.

    I do not claim to be an expert on teacher evaluations but pretty much any system is better than what we have today - which is nothing. Most of the proposals I see involve a combination of "value-added" metrics and frequent observations by the principal or some other observer assigned by the district. Yes, these measures are imperfect but at least they are making some effort towards a very desirable goal. At any rate, it is far better than just declaring that it cannot be done.

    You are wrong to say the bad teachers can't be gotten rid of. Happens all the time, through due process. I hope you're not against that.

    In theory, yes they can. In practice it is virtually impossible because of the nature of the "due process" mandated by the union contract. Check out this link which illustrates the steps needed to fire a tenured teacher. The link also mentions the case of the infamous creationist teacher John Freshwater (who I am pretty sure was mentioned on this website) who branded a cross onto one of his students' arms using a Tesla coil. It cost close to a million dollars and took over two years to fire him. Little wonder then that school districts would rather put up with incompetent teachers than go to the trouble of firing them.

    My kids have been in public as well as private school. I am not one of those who believe that private schools are better than the better public schools (and ours are very good indeed). However, I did notice one big difference between the two. I noticed that in any public school (no matter how good) you always have a couple of teachers who are so terrible that they shouldn't be allowed within a mile of a classroom. My daughter had one of those. Wouldn't teach at all - spent most of class showing the kids videos (which had nothing to do with the subject). Yet this person was a very senior teacher who had been in the school for a very long time. Every parent knew about this person - and realized that nothing could be done. Why not? Look at the previous paragraph for the reasons. By the way, I live in a very affluent area and most of the parents in my school are extremely motivated and committed to their kids' education. In a private school such a teacher wouldn't stay employed past the end of the academic year.

  • RM
  • Thu, 26 Apr 2012 01:10:08 UTC | #937378

    Valerie_'s Avatar Comment 22 by Valerie_

    Comment 19 by Sara :

    Do you think experience and advanced degrees do not usually make someone a better teacher? Doctor? scientist?

    Most teachers in the US public (=state) schools have advanced degrees in the field of education. Too many don't even have first degrees in the subjects they teach. IMO, and I'll be happy to provide a bevy of links supporting this idea, degrees in education tend to be fluffy aren't worth the paper they're written on. For example, they focus way too much on "diversity" and "social justice" and not nearly enough on subjects like "Topics and themes in children's literature" and "Mathematics" (not 'Mathematics education").

    Unfortunately, this lack of a serious education leads to terrible problems in our system, and these problems are driving the voucher and charter school movements. I agree that people with religious or other agendas can/are taking advantage of the situation. But there are still real and serious problems in US educational philosophy.

    For example, many "studies" in education --- which are used to for the basis of policy decisions --- are are garbage based on pseudoscience, unproven assumptions, and poorly designed experiments. This paper on "values affirmation" is full of these kinds of problems, yet it's been widely accepted and used as a basis for educational decisions. This kind of stuff drives me NUTS. The worst part about it is that most people don't even know about this problem.

    In fact, I'll even throw down Val's Pseudoscience Challenge here: I'll donate $20 to the RDF for every unique mistake/false assumption/poor methodology instance that people here can find in that paper, up to ten. Bonus points will be awarded for a good analysis.

    Disclosure: I have never met the study authors, am not in their field, have nothing to gain from this challenge, and only know about this paper because it was my ill fortune to have to read it recently. My motivation here is simple: I cannot abide pseudoscience, and this paper is a wretched example of it that never should have been published.

    Thu, 26 Apr 2012 02:30:37 UTC | #937384

    Micah V.'s Avatar Comment 23 by Micah V.

    Live in the bible belt (falwellville to be specific) and they do try to push religion on students here, not just through programs such as these but on an individual teacher by teacher basis. Many of the teachers attempt to push any little tidbit about Christianity they can into their lesson plans. It's disturbing. The majority of the prep schools in the area follow this as well so the subtle (not always) indoctrination is not limited by income levels, have friends much much richer than myself who go to separate schools sharing similar concerns.

    Thu, 26 Apr 2012 02:59:23 UTC | #937387

    aroundtown's Avatar Comment 24 by aroundtown

    Fantastic need to keep pushing the great monkey in the sky story. Really doesn't matter how they get it done as long as they do. The problem from my perspective is the religiously affected feel they are doing the great monkey in the sky a favor by slipping the "good message" in wherever they can. When you live in a delusion it is pretty easy to prop up your delusions a little further and see no harm in your actions.

    Thu, 26 Apr 2012 04:25:39 UTC | #937396

    Vorlund's Avatar Comment 25 by Vorlund

    Choice should not extend to being an uneducated fool any more than choosing to be a criminal or choosing to carry out your own dentistry and surgery on your children or choosing to be a wife beater or choosing to carry diseases into the community.

    People who carry the sky god delusion defect should be appoached with caution, their decisions by the very nature of their affliction are defective and dangerous to human advancement. When we were forced to accept their claims about reality we slowed to a crawl only to be pulled forward by the great minds capable of standing up to them.

    Thu, 26 Apr 2012 07:15:14 UTC | #937403

    Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 26 by Alan4discussion

    Comment 20 by QuestioningKat

    If you give an uneducated, low income parent the option of where to educate the child, chances are they will not choose wisely and further limit the child.

    Stupid parents given choices, are a definite handicap to children.

    When I was a governor of a top performing UK LEA school, which always had more applications than available places, we had an appeal from a stupid parent about the rejection of a child's admission at 11+.

    Not only was there no place at our school, but there were no longer any places left at any of the other nearby highly rated schools.

    The family lived outside our area, and had no other links such as brothers or sisters at our school, so was low on our ratings.

    The stupid parent had found that our school was the top one in the area, so had put it as first, second and third choice on the application form. Consequently the possible 2nd & 3rd choice schools were full by the time everyone else had had their preferences met.

    They then appealed against our rejection of their application on the grounds that the child was being bullied by other children at her primary school, and did not want to attend the same (nearest) secondary school as those children.

    As there was no basis for a priority claim for admission to our school, and it was now full, the appeal was rejected as a lame try-on, with the unfortunate child having to travel a distance to a low-rated school which still had places unfilled.

    Pure parental stupidity!

    Thu, 26 Apr 2012 08:25:57 UTC | #937415

    Sara's Avatar Comment 28 by Sara

    to raghu - you're right - you are not an expert on teacher evaluations. Perhaps there is nothing very good where you are from, but teacher evaluation is quite common -- just as employee evaluation is common in other fields.

    As for the terrible teacher about which "nothing could be done" -- it sounds more like you had a terrible principal who would not do anything and who passed the buck to "the system."

    Valerie -- it sounds like you've been reading anti-teacher propaganda. Teachers must receive certification and continuing education in their field in order to continue teaching.

    Certainly there are problems in education that are caused by poor teaching, but the biggest problems in the US are caused by the effects of poverty, poor parenting and poor funding of the schools with kids that need the most remedial help.

    The best teacher in the world can't make up for poor parenting and lack of school supplies and equipment.

    Thu, 26 Apr 2012 13:37:18 UTC | #937465

    AlecK's Avatar Comment 29 by AlecK

    1: School vouchers allow parents to choose private schools 2: Private schools are not subjected the government curriculum and onslaught of bloated unions 3: This means it is possible to religious schools to be established 4: Therefore Romney wants to destroy separation of church and state????

    "“In my opinion, the science class is where to teach evolution, or if there are other scientific thoughts that need to be discussed,” he said. “If we’re going to talk about more philosophical matters, like why it was created, and was there an intelligent designer behind it, that’s for the religion class or philosophy class or social studies class.”" - Mitt Romney

    gee this article SURE isn't politically motivated huh?

    Thu, 26 Apr 2012 14:54:16 UTC | #937485

    achromat666's Avatar Comment 30 by achromat666

    Comment 28 by Sara :

    to raghu - you're right - you are not an expert on teacher evaluations. Perhaps there is nothing very good where you are from, but teacher evaluation is quite common -- just as employee evaluation is common in other fields. As for the terrible teacher about which "nothing could be done" -- it sounds more like you had a terrible principal who would not do anything and who passed the buck to "the system."

    Valerie -- it sounds like you've been reading anti-teacher propaganda. Teachers must receive certification and continuing education in their field in order to continue teaching. Certainly there are problems in education that are caused by poor teaching, but the biggest problems in the US are caused by the effects of poverty, poor parenting and poor funding of the schools with kids that need the most remedial help.

    The best teacher in the world can't make up for poor parenting and lack of school supplies and equipment.

    Agreed, especially on the last point. None of the issues will be resolved until we address all of the major problems that hinder them: money needed to update and improve the system, better environment to offer the students a better chance at an education, and a fundamental understanding between the school and the families on the expectations of the child and the responsibilities for both sides. .

    There is no simple answer, and fixing even a fraction of these issues will likely take generations to implement to great effect. And that would be once something is even in place...

    Thu, 26 Apr 2012 15:21:29 UTC | #937492