Friday, March 11, 2005

Teenagers, TV, Media, and Multi-tasking

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a new study on 8-18 year-olds and their use of media. It is worth a look. This link will give you the story in colorful bar graphs.

I suppose there are more TV's per home than there are toilets. This means there is more crap going into the home than there is going out.


At Friday, March 11, 2005, Anonymous Wall Street Journal reader said...

From WSJ 3-11-05 By CHESTER E. FINN JR.

"Over the past half-century, the number of pupils in U.S. schools grew by about 50% while the number of teachers nearly tripled. Spending per student rose threefold, too. If the teaching force had simply kept pace with enrollments, school budgets had risen as they did, and nothing else changed, today's average teacher would earn nearly $100,000, plus generous benefits.

What America has done, these past 50 years, is invest in more teachers rather than better ones. No wonder teaching salaries have just kept pace with inflation, despite huge increases in education budgets.

Why did we triple the size of the teaching work force instead of paying more to a smaller number of stronger people?

It was not in anyone's interest to keep the teaching ranks sparse, while many interests were served by helping them to swell. Today, we pay the price: lots of money spent on schooling, nearly all of it for salaries, but schooling that, at the end of the day, depends on the knowledge, skills and commitment of teachers who don't earn much and cannot see that they ever will.

Despite all that, and to their great credit, most teachers are decent folks who care about kids and want to help them learn.

But fat across-the-board raises for three million people are a pipe dream. (Adding $10,000 plus benefits to their pay would add some $40 billion to school budgets.)

Maybe we can't turn back the clock on the numbers, but surely we can reverse the policy errors. We should insist that new entrants play by different rules that reward effectiveness, deploy smart incentives and suitable technology, compensate them sensibly, and make skillful use of short-termers instead of just wishing they'd stay longer."

At Saturday, March 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are some valid points in Finn's article, higher wages may attract more and possibly better candidates, but it isn't all that simple.

I've been in the business a long time - kids are different and parents are different.

There may have been a time when 35-40 kids in a room was doable. That would be efficient and we could pay more money to the teachers. Not one teacher I know agrees today. Kids are hyperactive, multitasking, and verbally precocious. The best ones read, write and do math better than ever before and the worst ones have so much physical and emotional baggage it is hard to even describe. We spent two days this week trying to get a 10 year-old some help. Child Protective Services says it isn't abuse because he has food and a roof. He sleeps in a closet on a bare mattress covered in a plastic baggy and wets himself every night.We try to shower and bath him at school. Kind of cuts down on the math time though. He is in an alternative school with one of those "Extra - unneeded teachers and a mental health therapist" Finn decries. Why? Because the same legislators crying about all these extra teachers that cost so much also bash us for high expulsion rates. Can't get rid of the kid (We don't want to - but it starts to feel like educators are the only ones who care about these throwaway kids anymore), your child doesn't want to sit next to a disruptive, smelly kid. Where does he go? Why, let's just stack him up two deep in the room with 40 other kids so we can pay the teacher more money and hope we get better teacher's then? Teacher's need more money - at least those at the bottom of the scale.

Now the shocker, this is a school district with one of the highest property values per student in the state.

At Saturday, March 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are clearly one of the MANY decent people in teaching.

I wish good classroom teachers would start blogs that document the things they have to endure and offer SOLUTIONS to consider. "We need more pay" just sounds hollow year after year.

For the most part, the "voice of teachers" comes from the Unions and politicians -- who have interests not necessarily aligned with classroom teachers.

Teachers would be VERY well-served by documenting their daily challenges and offering thoughtful, pragmatic solutions.

Blogs allow teachers to by-pass the Unions and get their individual or collective views to the public.

The Super's Blog could take that approach -- offering a rich array of compelling, constructive ideas to which the media, Governor and public might listen.

Will satire and ridicule cause meaningful change? Maybe, but I'm skeptical.

At Saturday, March 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The public wants the truth?? The public can't handle the truth, because it will force them to confront the very issues that they want to pass off to the schools so they can go on with life as normal. The narcissism that exists in this society is second only to the unwillingness to confront it!!

At Saturday, March 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has the public received the truth from CLASSROOM teachers over an extended period? If so, where can one access it?

I suspect the public's view of education as "a problem" will not change without credible, actionable information.

Or teachers can continue to wallow in self-pity and satire, which may be more satisfying.

At Saturday, March 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Schools could do a much better job at marketing what they are doing, that is true. I submit, however that due to the diatribe put out by those who are out to destroy public education have so eroded the public trust that it will have a hard time gaining any credibility even if it were available. There is evidence that most people believe that the public schools in their communities are doing fairly well; it is the schools "out there" that are having real problems. It seems that what we need to deal with are those people out there that continually thrive on half truths and innuendo to tarnish the reputations of the many hard working and dedicated educators so that the provate sector can get their hands on the public's money to educate our kids. It is all about the money.

From other postings in this blog, we know that the engine that is driving educational reform is business and industry. They want to inprove the quality of their input (worker productivity) so they cah improve their bottom line. Schools will be limiting exposure to the arts, music, and a host of other areas that give the students an appreciation for quality of life, rather than all math and science that will improve the quality of their output and improve their bottom lines...They will not allow us the try to improve the quality of our input, wso we cn improve the quality of our output. We take all comers. There is a train wreck coming...Wait till the voters see the elimination of basketball, football, marching band, and show choir because they have to concentrate on more math, science, language arts so they can pass the standardized tests. The silent majority has yet to have a say in all of this...

At Saturday, March 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some excellent comments.

The second poster has an excellent idea.

Let's get teachers to blog their daily dramas - the highs and lows. The real life stuff that we deal with every day.

Most are working so hard and being so caring that they don't even have time to recognize that union leaders and lobbyists at the state level are carrying their reputations for them.

I think it safe to say that most state legislatures feel like running when the state teacher's union lobbyist shows up at their door.

They DON'T truly represent most teachers I work with.

A Super

At Saturday, March 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, the evil at work consists of:

1- Businesses - they are pressing for educational reform to suit their self-interest -- which is to have more capable employees that add value so they can produce more profitable products that consumers want,

2- Businesses - that want to make money by privatizing education and presumably delivering a "product" that parents want.

3- Businesses that make Standardized Tests - a test that ensures students are capable of some minimal level of achievement.

I'm sensing a theme.

At Saturday, March 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Super --

It is not just the highs and lows -- which do help tell the story and clarify the problems -- the public (or at least me) wants to hear practical recommendations from teachers as to:

1- what would improve the classroom situation,

2- how might concerned citizens help -- are there actions we can take to assist the classroom teacher with solutions?

At Saturday, March 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a multi-faceted problem that will not be solved if all wwe do is finger-point. That being said, it seems to me what is at stake is the very republic that we live in. Public Schools are part of the very fabric of that republic that were established for the transmission of our cultural values and morays. As a part of this transmission, public schools were to teach what it takes to be a productive citizen. With the evolution of the culture becoming extremely egocentric, the job of teaching the academic skills to be successful in an ever changing society is ever more difficult. Because educators have had to deal with the cultural decay to get students in a position where they are ready to learn,, the waning academic skills become the focus. Public schools cannot do it all. We are expected to be social workers, law enforcers, medical professionals, educators, surrogate parents, caterers, psychologists, psychiatrists, babysitters...and the list goes on

It appears to be human nature that when things aren't going the way you want, there are a few choice responses. First, we look to identify who is at fault so we can assign blame. It is always easier to blame than to deal with the root causes for the situation. The second response is usually "there ought to be a law." People that have a theory as to how to "fix" a problem want to force their will on others.

With over 25 years as an educator in Indiana, and 20 as a public school administrator, I have to believe that it is the best thing for our republic to work with the people in the public schools and not just discard them for various schemes that yet have not stood the test of time.

It is time that we stop the bickering and work to do what is in our enlightened self interest...the defense of our society and our standing in the world. If we are to maintain ourselves, we must do right by our children.

At Saturday, March 12, 2005, Blogger Joe Thomas said...

I am a teacher. You cannot legislate parental skills. You can reduce class sizes (especially in elementary schools), you can attempt to retain quality math and science teachers (no one wants to hear "more pay" so I will let you figure out how to keep scientists and mathematicians in a room with a challenging group to educate for half of what they can earn somewhere else), you can volunteer more and connect more with your school, and you can come (back) to the understanding that most of the learning that happens in school can not be measured on a multiple choice test.

How does one measure cooperation, teamwork, goal setting, taking turns, achievement, intrinsic satisfaction, leadership, athletic drive, creativity, art, debate and music skill with a No. 2 pencil?

Please tell me we want our children to be more than standardized test takers.

Please tell me we will stop being lazy and reconnect with our schools so we can see first hand what a job they are doing instead of waiting to peruse student test scores in the paper.

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

March 11, 2005 -- 4 out of 10 fail English and Math on ISTEP.

Only 57 percent of 76,531 sophomores tested in September passed the exam, according to the Indiana Department of Education, which released 2004 ISTEP-Plus results for Grades 9 and 10 Thursday.

Questions for educators --

1- is that the goal or should it be 90% or 100% passing?

2- has the reason for the low performance been diagnosed by management?

3- given the diagnosis, has a plan been developed for each student to improve their performance for their junior year?

That's how a businessman would approach the situation.

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


We do want to pay more for science and math teachers and for teachers in tough inner city schools -- a form of combat pay.

What the public recoils from is the NEA's position that pay scales are solely based on seniority regardless of where one teaches or what one teaches.

You're right much of what is worth learning cannot be tested on a multiple choice test. BUT a lot of what needs to be learned CAN be tested thus, and the public would like to see those areas meeting minimum levels of proficiency.

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Looking at history said...

The poster who talked about the importance of Public Schools led me to research the origins of US public schools. Here's what I found...

Horace Mann(1796-1859), often called the Father of the Common School, was elected to act as Secretary of the newly-created Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837.

He used his position to enact major educational reform. He spearheaded the Common School Movement, ensuring that every child could receive a basic education funded by local taxes.

Mann's commitment to the Common School sprang from his belief that political stability and social harmony depended on education: a basic level of literacy and the inculcation of common public ideals.

His Unitarian religious beliefs played no small role in his efforts to establish free, public, non-sectarian education.

He declared, "Without undervaluing any other human agency, it may be safely affirmed that the Common School...may become the most effective and benignant of all forces of civilization." Mann believed that public schooling was central to good citizenship, democratic participation and societal well-being.

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Society 2005 said...

Perhaps schools are not the problem but rather the changes in society around them.

The 7th grade my daughter is in right now doesn't vary much from the 7th grade I attended 30 years ago. The world she faces outside of school has evolved enormously.

Perhaps public education in its current instantiation is no longer able to evolve at the same speed of modern society.

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As stated in previous posts on this site, the public schools were created as an institution to be a stable force in our society. With the ready, fire, aim penchant of our society, quick changes can threaten the fabric of our Republic. Yes, I know that there are those that will say that the inability of this institution to adapt and change is just as much a threat, but the fat is that our society has endured so many changes already, we need the anchor to keep us grounded in what is really important and not become so taken with the "flavor of the month" that we lose our bearings.

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To answer the questions posted above:

1: Should passing on the Indiana state test be 90% or 100%?

A simple answer would be - sure 90% or 100% sounds pretty good. A careful answer would sound like this: The pass rate can be anything society wants it to be. Developing cut scores is a social/political question - not an instructional/educational question. The "correct" cut score doesn't exist. The skeptic view is that the passing score is determined by how many society wants to fail. We manipulate it by both the difficulty of the test and the cut score we identify. The governors have just met again. Now they want each state to identify more rigorous standards again for high school. We have been upping the ante each year and it looks like it will continue for awhile. Not a problem - but logic tells me - if more students don't rise to the occasion and work harder and longer at younger ages do you think the percent passing will go up or down? Answer depends on whether they up the difficulty of the graduation exams and/or what they do with the cut scores.

2. Is managagement aware of the problem?


3. Has a plan been devised to help the students pass by the junior year?


Does the plan work?

Yes, in most cases it works if the student wants it to work. In our school there is only a handful of students who actually do not graduate due to not passing the ISTEP test. They take the test again after working on their plan for remediation.

You never read that in the paper did you? Talking about those that pass after the first time doesn't fit the MSM (manstream media) view. The only view that sells is many failed.

A Super

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When virtually all students end up passing the standardized test no one cares, because that doesn't grab anyone's attention and thus doesn't accrue to the bottom line. Its kind of like good news from Iraq.

Let's face it. No one wants to hear good news about education. It doesn't fit the template. From Rush Limbaugh all the way down, and I do mean "down" to our flannel clad governor, "education" has become the scapegoat for societies' ills. At the same time consider the sheer volume of people that are involved in the educational process from students to school personnel. Any enterprise that consists of that many millions of people will inevitably produce its share of failures and successes. The right only wants to concentrate on the failures, because they have an agenda. Obviously taking a balanced look at the situation doesn't interest them. That is their right. But it sure doesn't help their credibility.

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous history said...

Why aren't ISTA, NEA, AFT, IASP, the Democratic Party, Schools of Education, teachers and others on the Left just POUNDING OUT the positive news about public schools in a compelling way that reaches the public?

I'll grant you that the Right is pounding out the negative, but with the Unions, Associations, Democratic Party, Air America Liberal Radio and several million teachers -- there are hundreds of millions of dollars that could be directed on positive school news and the teachers' side of the story.

I don't understand their silence or at least I'm not seeing or understanding their positive message.

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even when it is good news the headlines are bad.

Recently the Fort Wayne Gazette ran a headline titled: "Latest ISTEP Scores Show Stunted Growth."

I went through all the area schools scores and found their pass rates to be anything but stunted. There were some amazing gains in just one year. Gains that will be hard to sustain as "regression toward the mean" pulls them back. Put they were good.

But even positive growth has to be advertised as "STUNTED" in order to get someone to read it.

Another "man bites dog" story.

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

history has a good point.

The answer is we don't understand marketing and PR and have never been good at it. We were respected and considered honorable for the most part in the past and we took it for granted. Somehow we became public enemy #1 and we have no idea how to craft a PR strategy to combat it.

At Sunday, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Start your PR here -- if the Fort Wayne numbers are good, share them in a way that non-educators, but reasonable educated people can understand.

Also, every teacher in Ft. Wayne should send a letter to the editor of the Gazette and demonstrate mathematically how the newspaper got it wrong.

I am certain that if a couple thousand pieces of mail landed on the editors desk it would get their attention, particularly if it were backed up with hundreds of teacher blogs speading the truth.

The Internet gives teachers huge power they have never had before.

At Monday, March 14, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Wildcatter says,

Public Relations! As superintendents we spend an enormous amount of time talking, writing and selling what is good in our school districts. My school district puts out an electronic newsletter (monthly), sends school related articles to our local newspaper, started a blog site, and has started a Leadership Council. We are also looking at creating a video to send to all realtors showing the best side of our school district. The problem is that it takes 12 to 13 good news articles to overcome just one negative article. Frankly, it is rare to even see a positive story about schools in the media.

Money! Doesn't anyone wonder why we can't find highly, qualified teachers? Look at professional sports and tell me that all of those athletes making between $350,000 to $20,000,000 are worth every penny. What value do they have in our society other than entertainment. Don't get me started on the movies and television actors/actresses and their pay checks. I think that we need to get our priorities in check--next time you are at the movies or attending that Colts game, look around at the police officers who are employed as security--Do you think they are making millions to be there to protect you? Look at the state and federal judges who are being attacked--Do you think their jobs are not as important as an actor/actress on "Full House"?
How about all of those wonderful soldiers who are over in Iraq, Afganistan and elsewhere protecting our interests and the interests of those countries--Do you think their pay should be as high as those dunking basketballs about 100 nights a year? So least anyone thinks that "just teachers and administrators" are crying about more money, I think that there are many professions out there deserve the respect and the compensation for what they do for our society. One other point, compare the educational levels of our teachers and administrators to those entertainers and athletes, see who comes out ahead in that race--it would appear to me that teachers and administrators will have the bigger investment in what they do!

At Tuesday, March 15, 2005, Blogger Joe Thomas said...

Wildcatter... post an address. I need to know where to send my resume.

At Tuesday, March 15, 2005, Anonymous History said...

Wildcatter -- 100% agree with you, which is why I've stopped going to the movies, watching TV and going to Colts or Pacers games.

And this past Christmas rather than giving my relatives gifts I made contributions in their names to the USO "Call Home" program.

If 3 million teachers (and their admirers) boycotted Hollywood entertainment and pro sports, I'll bet that would get attention. Where's the Teachers Union spirit?


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