… and here are MY initial thoughts

While you’re making up your mind, here are my first, no-looking-at-notes impressions of the candidates from the debate tonight:

  • Karen Floyd was pretty much as "Mr. Hatfield" described her: She presented herself well — generally remembering to address the camera (which is either being real mindful of you folksFloyd_debate at home, or rude to those with whom she is conversing, but the ETV professionals say it’s the thing to do) — but very slick. As I’ve said before, she’s smart. She knows what she wants to say, and what she doesn’t want to say. What she wants to say is that she’s open to public schools, private schools, good proposals from anybody, Mom, the flag and apple pie. What she doesn’t want to say is anything that will locate her specifically and precisely on the issue of whether tax money should go to rebates to parents who send their kids to private schools. You’ll notice she did finally say "yes," which she says sent her aide into a tizzy. Anyway, overall I think anyone scoring this thing would say she did quite well.
  • Bob Staton did a good job, too. He also remembered to keep talking to the camera. But he did more than that. I think anyone watching without any other knowledge of the candidatesStaton_debate would have come away seeing him as the solid and trustworthy. The issue for him is whether that’s going to be enough. Mr. Staton was the one person in the studio with extensive experience with education reform. For the past eight years, he’s been helping lead the process begun by the Education Accountability Act of 1998. Trouble is, the governor has the bulliest pulpit in this state, and he has accomplished one thing in the education arena — he’s managed to fool a lot of people into thinking that anyone who won’t abandon accountability altogether by throwing public money at private schools is somehow a mossbacked defender of the status quo. Those who have been doing the heavy lifting of implementing accountability in spite of the education establishment’s resistance have apparently been too stunned to offer an effective rebuttal to that. I’m not sure Mr. Staton gained much ground in that regard tonight.
  • Mike Ryan was of course the only actual educator in the room. His bestRyan_debate moment was when he cut in to refute the oft-repeated canard that with the PACT, teachers are just "teaching to the test." I was glad to hear him say (for the second time; he had also shared the observation with our editorial board) what is obvious to anyone who understands what the EAA is about: The teachers are teaching to the high curriculum standards that the EAA demanded. The test — which the teachers don’t get to see ahead of time — is merely a device to find out whether the kids are learning to those standards.
  • Elizabeth Moffley is earnest and I believe sincerelyMoffley_debate concerned, but I don’t think she made any further progress in letting me — or anyone else — know exactly why she’s in the race. I blame myself for a weak answer on her part in one case, though. When I had spoken with her before, she had rather forcefully made the point that private schooling for kids with special needs can well cost upwards of $20,000, making the subsidy provided by PPIC pretty laughable, even for those lucky enough to live in a metropolitan area that would attract such schools. I launched into the question thinking to remind her of that, and then got lost trying to ask it without telling her what her answer had been (thereby negating the need for her to speak at all). Considering how screwed up the question was, she recovered quite well.Wood_debate
  • Kerry Wood continues to have much the same problem. I fail to see why he wanted to be so cautious on some of the answers. If I had as little chance as he does to get into the runoff, I’d feel free to opine agressively on every point, not worrying about what anybody else thought about my opinions.

Frankly, if candidates Ryan, Moffley and Wood had bowed out, we could have had a really pointed, detailed discussion of the critical accountability-vs.-tax credits issue between the chief spokespeople for those positions — not to mention, the two most likely candidates to get into the runoff.

No, I’m not saying people who don’t have a chance don’t have a "right" to run (so hold the huffy comments about that). I’m just saying that debates such as this would be a lot more informative if they didn’t. You can’t get very far with five candidates in an hour. You can nail down a few critical issues with two, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of both PACT and choice. (And yes, there are things to be said for and against both, things that I fear most voters haven’t had time to examine in sufficient detail to be choosing the person who will oversee a larger part of state government than the governor does.)

83 thoughts on “… and here are MY initial thoughts

  1. Grace

    Quite frankly Brad, YOU should have been the one to bow out. You were totally unprofessional, giving obvious candidates more time than others. It is strictly YOUR opinion that the top 2 money raisers have this in the bag. While the others may have a lack of money, at least they have fresh ideas and can think for themselves without someone else pulling their puppet strings. I think you should have had timed answers and stuck to it. Personally, I don’t think Mrs. Mrs. Mrs. (no that isn’t a typo) “my children are in a great public school” Floyd came across well at all. She is afraid to say anything that might not please her “endorsers” so to speak. So while you have your own opinions and that is certainly warranted, last night was not the place for it, and you obviously thought it was. Again, it was VERY unprofessional and came across as such.

  2. Randy E

    Debate Lacked Substance.
    The debate and State article today focused on a good “angle” for selling papers – choice. This is hardly an issue that will have a sweeping impact on education here in SC. In other states with choice, you find maybe a 2% of students making use of choice.
    Two other main topics: cutting waste and election vs appointment have minimal impact on reform.
    Here are issues I believe Warthen and Robinson are responsible for highlighting: how to address the disparity between white and minority students; the disparity between suburban and other areas (this was barely touched in the debate); what is the purpose of education – what we want our graduates of k-12 to possess.
    I think of education in SC to be a car that is in disrepair. The candidates get away with addressing the paint and body design when they should focus on the engine and brakes. The State enables the candidates to do this. After reading Robinson’s two news reports, Warthen’s candidate blurbs, and all the candidate websites I feel I’ve kicked the tires of the car but am still lost as to the engine.

  3. Lee

    The other “real educator” candidate was the one not invited – Tim Moultrie, who teaches English at Dreher High School.
    I quit listening to this farce of free commercials. As others said above, this was another case of lazy journalists asking fluff questions from a template, and letting the candidates talk around the issues.

  4. Lee

    The only way to “address the disparity between white and non-whites students” is to recognize that the disparity is not due to skin color or funding of schools.
    The disparity is due to the lack of family life for most black children in this state, thanks to liberal policies which reward and enable dropout, unwed mothers to have illegitimate babies with no father even listed on the birth certificates.

  5. Brad Warthen

    Actually, we have a different idea about what “professional” means.
    I long ago decided I couldn’t work in news any more, because in too many newsrooms being “professional” means you can’t tell the truth. You have to pretend that all things are equal. You do a story about the color of the sky, and one source says it’s black. So you run and find another source who says it’s white. And you turn in your story, convinced that you have been fair, balanced and “professional.”
    But you’ve done a huge disservice to the reader because you haven’t told them the truth. YOU know it’s blue, but you can’t say what YOU think.
    If you’re enterprising and conscientious, you go out and get a neutral “expert” — you have a Rolodex full of them (or, nowadays, a Blackberry) — who will say that while space is black, thanks to sunlight reflecting and refracting through the impurities of our atmosphere, it actually appears to the human eye to be blue. He may even add that on a hazy, hot day when there’s been no rain for a while, it may appear white, or even gray. And he’ll explain how THAT happens. But all you really have room for in the story is that he says it really looks blue.
    Yes, plenty of news people do just go ahead and tell the truth as they know. But they are the ones who have been given special dispensation. They have the cover of being columnists, or their stories are labeled “analysis.” A lot of them do this very well. As an editor in news for many years, I tried to guide reporters to tell the truth as much as they could without breaking all the “equal time” rules (rules that aren’t really rules for print; it’s just something we impose on ourselves, and readers tend to expect).
    Basically, I just had to get out and go into editorial, where you can just write what you know without apology. That applies also to deciding how to use your space and time. They are both limited commodities, and must be used well to serve the readers to the best of your ability.
    (I believe The State’s newsroom works hard to rise above the news limitations, and often succeeds. But it IS hard; the modern news model is just very limiting to the journalist; opinion writing sets you free of those conventions.)
    You spend time with all of the candidates, but that time helps you to see which are the ones with the most to say, and the best chances of getting into office. So you do what you can to maximize what the readers learn about those candidates.
    I’ve enjoyed getting to know Ms. Moffley, Mr. Wood and Mr. Ryan. I like all of them, particularly Mr. Ryan, the only educator in the race. And yes, one of them could surprise me and get into a runoff.
    But the main battle in education today is going on between the backers of Mr. Staton and Mrs. Floyd (and thank you for reminding me; I had checked a couple of weeks ago and she DOES prefer Mrs. I was pretty tired last night and didn’t remember that. I only use “Ms.” when I’m not sure which the lady prefers — which I still don’t know with Elizabeth Moffley).
    And I’m not about to make apologies for concentrating my resources on the main event.

  6. Brad Warthen

    Randy E, you’re absolutely right; the most important issue in education in SC is the inequality of opportunity between rural and suburban schools. That’s why we say it in the newspaper over and over and over again. For instance, if you check out Sunday’s lead editorial, you’ll see that it’s why we reject the tax compromise — it falls short of changing the funding system to give the poor, rural areas an even shot.
    But in the Republican contest for superintendent of education, there’s an immediate issue that can’t be avoided: There’s a decision to be made between someone who believes in sticking with present reform efforts, and someone who is willing to abandon the idea that accountable public schools are the only way to go. One of these views will guide education policy for the next four years, and it’s critical that people who are going to vote in the Republican primary get enough information to make an informed decision on that point.
    Ultimately, the issue of rich-vs.-poor schools will be decided by the Legislature. And yes, it’s good to find out what an education candidate has to say about that. But if you ask it, you just get back to the issue that Republicans are debating among themselves. I becomes, “choice is the only way to rescue kids from failing rural schools” or “accountability is the only way to rescue kids by reforming schools that we as a state have failed.”
    Unfortunately, with an hour limit, and with five candidates, that issue wasn’t explored nearly enough to give a casual voter what he or she needs to make a wise decision.
    You just have to hope folks will read the newspaper.

  7. Grace

    Gee Brad, your post somehow reminds me of Mrs. Floyd’s responses last night… long, drawn out and boring.
    And you just further emphasized what we all already know, this race isn’t about the children of SC as it SHOULD be, it’s another political ballgame where one candidate at least is using this as a stepping stone to higher ground. Go ahead, vote for Mrs. Floyd, then let’s all wait and see how this will turn out when in 2 years Mrs. Floyd announces her intentions to run as govenor, and the educational system will be no better off than the day she took office.

  8. Lee

    “Shools Dodge Bullet, For Now”
    Children hit by stray bullets from drive-by media.

  9. Spartanburg

    Brad, kudos to you for being soooooo slick. You were obviously the smartest one in the room and here’s how we know that:
    Spending two hours with an editorial board of a newspaper is NEVER a good thing, but you were able to convince Karen Floyd it was (again, demonstrating how dumb this woman really is). One must wonder just how much dirt you were able to get in that two hour period. I’m betting, the smart guy you are, that you got a lot.
    You gave Karen all the time on ETV and let her talk as much as she wanted. The only thing that woman was lacking was drool coming out the side of her mouth to look like a complete idiot (I mean, more than two minutes to answer a Yes/No question, geez!). And, just how many times did she say, “Every child deserves an excellent education.” Well, there’s a revolutionary thought if ever I heard one. PLEASE find me just one creature on God’s Green Earth that would actually disagree with that fluff. No wonder people are actually referring to her as Fluff Floyd.
    Yes Brad, you were obviously the top intellectual in that room and I have to congratulate you on what you’re doing. It really is slick. We all know you’re pulling for the Democrat (Jim Rex) to win in November, so not only are you hedging your bet that Floyd will win the Republican nomination, but you are actually trying to help push it in that direction because you know, as well as the rest of us, that she will be the easiest to beat. Jim Rex is a darn smart man and heavily involved with education. You put him up against Intellectually-Void-Floyd and he’ll easily kick her back to Texas (where she’s really from).
    Yes Brad, as smart as you are, I’m betting you already know about many of the skeletons in Floyd’s closet and you or your colleagues are just lying in wait for her to win on June 13th so you can begin parading them out in front of everyone. You’re smart enough to know you’re screwed if Bob Staton, Mike Ryan, or Kerry Wood wins the nomination.

  10. Lee

    The main battle in education today is between parents who are concerned about their children having to give up real learning to make time for political indoctrination by a government schools system, and the their socialist adversaries who run the system to maximize their income and power.

  11. Randy E

    Education not Politics
    I have yet to hear anyone on here address meaningful educational reform.
    PalmettoNeocon: please share with us exactly how teachers teach to the test and give specifics that you have witnessed first hand. If you had read Wood’s website you would have known ahead of time that he offered little more than “cutting waste” as his vision for change.
    Lee: your views on government offer a nostalgic flavor from past generations.
    Grace and Spartanburg seem to be rechanneling some negative feelings. I suggest some warm milk and Enya. I believe the editorial board of The State, including Warthen, to be thorough and fair and I don’t always agree with them.
    Brad: I understand that you were limited in time and there was separation along reformist lines. What I am suggesting is that you could ask these candidates: “what are the biggest issues facing our schools and how would you address them?”
    If a Karen Floyd wants to try something new like the Philadelphia private management, let her explain that. If Bob StaNton the nonpolitician thinks that redirecting money from uppermanagement to the classroom will solve our problems, let him explain how. Ask Mike Ryan to explain any innovation or plan that he has.
    Please Brad, take us beyond sound bites and political discourse to dialogue on the real issues. Education is too important for us to hang in political limbo.

  12. Lee

    I plead guilty to having a nostalgic vision of America as the Founders intended it to be, of schools when the parents were not outsiders, of students who had two parents, when most of the money spent on schools went to paying teachers, who were usually the most educated and best role models in town.

  13. Doug

    I’ll give a specific example of teaching to the test. My 7th grade son’s pre-algebra class did poorly on an exam back in February. Noone in the class got an “A”. When the students and then parents asked the teacher to
    go over the material again, the response from the teacher was “We can’t slow down. We need to finish the book before PACT”
    They also did no work the week prior to PACT nor the two weeks after PACT.
    More facts: In all the years my kids have taken PACT (3 kids times five years each), there has not been a single modification in their individual instruction even though we’ve seen scores that range from excellent to average. We’ve never seen a teacher replaced due to low scores (because imagine the uproar if parents actually knew that their children had been through a year of inadequate instruction!!)
    PACT is worthless. Accountability normally means taking action to rectify poor results. Show me anywhere that has happened in South Carolina in eight years.
    Bad scores are explained away as testing issues. REALLY bad scores are dealt with by instituting more bureacracy and programs that keep plenty of education consultants in BMW’s.
    It’s all just a bunch of statistics that can be bent, folded, and manipulated to keep the status quo. Parents know where
    the best schools are. Parents know who the best teachers are. You want an easy PACT
    test — ask 100 realtors which schools are the best. Or ask the group of mothers who are chatting in the car pool line which teachers are best. You’ll get more information in 15 minutes than you will with 200 PACT tests.

  14. Ready to Hurl

    Whoa, Lee, you’re just too easy.
    In all probability, only Jefferson (among the Founders) even dreamed of taxpayer funded education open to all.
    Remember, never let reality intrude upon your “nostalgia.” (Given your past statements, I’m sure that a reminder isn’t necessary.)

  15. Ready to Hurl

    Spartanburg, the only “skeleton” that could possibly damage a Republican in this state is being found having sex with a live animal or a dead person (of the same sex).

  16. Dave

    Education in this state doesnt need just a little tweaking from insiders. We also don’t need an Ed. Secty. at odds with the governor. That leads me to Floyd. Let’s give conservative teamwork in education a chance. What do we have to lose from the results we have been getting, even though I noticed the state has had some improvements. It all still comes down to parenting and if you look at the worst schools, the parents are AWOL or MIA. I don’t think any elected official is going to correct that very quickly or easily.

  17. Randy E

    Doug: Your first example of “teaching to the test” is supporting evidence of the opposite. As teachers, we have standards that have to be addressed. PACT tests those standards. If this math teacher failed to cover the material in the text and thereby left out standards, then your student will be assessed on material this was left out. How upset would you be then?
    I am impressed with your ability to discern quality in teachers and schools by word of mouth. I’m sure you wouldn’t be happy if a group of teachers assigned grades to your students based on chats in the teachers lounge. You would want the actual grades, which is an example of “statistics.” Statistics can be misused, but there’s baby and there’s bath water.
    Your citation of “more facts” interests me. Your claim that no action has been taken in response to PACT scores in the last 8 years implies that you KNOW what has transpired in ALL schools in SC.
    This is what I find to be a major problem in addressing the ills of education. Many people, including many of the candidates, draw conclusions based on personal experience and limited information. Your perspective is valuable, but isn’t conclusive. When we base evaluations solely on subjectivity, then fairness goes out the door.
    Thomas Jefferson understood that the foundation of a democratic society was informed consent of the people. Let’s have more meaningful information and less diatribes.

  18. Randy E

    Lee: parenting plays a major role, but if that was the only factor, then we’d give parents the books and tests to take home. This reminds me of the commercial in which a man is sitting at his dinning room table with a steak knife. On the phone with him was his doctor who was explaining how to make an incision in his belly. The idea was the need for personal professional help. The same applies to education. Once I had a freshmen who went crying home to her mother wanting to drop algebra 1 after one month because she wasn’t doing well. I explained that the student hadn’t made the effort to succeed. Because of my professional advice, the student finished the course with a B – a big step toward going to college.
    Here’s what can happen with electing Floyd and Sanford. Her proposal for low achieving schools is to use a private school management program that has only been in use in Philadelphia for 3 1/2 years. This untested big city program is what we should prescribe for Allendale and Calhoun county? I’m not saying to vote against her, I simply want more information before committing to this track.

  19. David

    Randy E. Exactly right.
    My wife is a private school teacher(former public school). She is all for home schooling – for some people. She has parents at her private school that think their child is ready for skipping a grade when they can’t even pass their current grade. Sadly, some parents think they are raising an honor student and they aren’t even raising a passing student. (and thse are private school kids from good families) It would be a hoot to see them in home school.
    School choice isn’t an option for a single parent in a rural area where the nearest private school (or better public school) is 60-75 miles away.
    Lee is correct in one thing – the parents are to blame for a lot of these situations. But what he doesn’t get is that some of these parents aren’t going to change regardless – some wouldn’t know how to if they could – and some wouldn’t care to if they could.
    School choice is a great theory but makes no reasonable sense for most of our rural area schools.

  20. Dave

    David, you are thinking only in terms of what is available today. Give the families vouchers worth $10,000 per student and watch how quickly you see alternative academies and private schools spring up to meet the demand in all areas of the state. This is the professional educrat’s nightmare

  21. Randy E

    Dave, you are suggesting vouchers for 10k? This is a TAX PAYER’S nightmare. What would your “conservative” peers say about that?
    The elephant in the room is what exactly is the problem in the classroom that hinders learning? I’d like the candidates and Warthen to address this.

  22. Lee

    Free market solutions don’t solve every problem. There will be those lacking the intellect to be educated by any system. The free market just allocates more resources to those who value them, instead of wasting our wealth by giving it to those with no ability or ambition.
    There will always be lazy people, promiscous women, drunks and dope addicts. Right now we have a liberal government which excuses that behavior and rewards it with financial incentives.

  23. Nathan

    I didn’t come away particulary impressed with anyone, but I think that it was mainly because there were too many candidates for the time allotment. I agree that it would have been better if it were just Floyd and Staton.
    As for the other candidates, I believe that Ryan’s only argument appears to be that he is an educator. To me, that is a weak argument. I know many teachers, but few of them would seem well suited for a top administrative position. It requires a completely different skill set. Moffley and Wood gave me no impression that they were prepared for this type of job.
    As for the two main candidates, I was disappointed that Floyd tried so hard not to answer questions. What does it say about a candidate who doesn’t want to tell us what they stand for? (Unfortunately, that is how politicians run today.) I didn’t hear enough from her or any other candidate about what specifically is the waste within the school system. While I agree there is waste, I want to hear what they think is the waste. If they don’t know, then maybe they don’t need the job of cutting the waste. I wouldn’t hire a police officer who didn’t know anything about US or SC laws.
    I think that Staton sounded like what he is: the only person running for this job with significant experience in education reform. He sounded like a man who isn’t learning about education as a way to get into politics. I think that he will win this race because of that.

  24. Dave

    Randy E. – The poorest school in the state is spending $7000 per student and the richest is paying out $17000 each. $10,000 is at least in the range of expectations. I will let the accountants work out the fine details. Let the free market take effect with that kind of education spend and you would see results. Positive ones….

  25. Randy E

    Nathan – a voice of reason in a world of political cackling. Thanks for your sound observations and thoughtful analysis. I completely agree with your views.
    Ryan doesn’t even have a website to share his ideas. This is a vote for the status quo.
    Floyd came off very slick, but I will give her credit for her website. She did offer up great details on her plan for education.
    Staton did seem sincere and his plan as presented on his websites are clearly the work of a goals oriented businessman – which is a good thing here. I only worry that he has not offered up specific problems in education other than spending.
    By the way, Jim Rex, the democrat some details but mostly happy talk to get the democrat and teacher vote.

  26. Ready to Hurl

    Obviously, Dave is for a tax increase!
    Or, he’s talking out his ass.
    No, really. This isn’t a trick choice.
    BTW, where’s your proof that any SC district is spending $17,000/student?

  27. Lee

    Average spending per pupil in South Carolina for the 2002-2003 school year was $9,260.00.
    Estimates for 2005-2006 are about $12,000.
    Since 1977, the Education Finance Act has allocated more funds toward the districts with less local funding, based on 15 student criteria and several other criteria, such as the tax base and local taxes.

  28. Randy E

    Lee, I’m not sure where you are getting your numbers, but they don’t jibe with what I have read. I gave you a link. I saw similar numbers from various entities. The bottom line is a voucher would, at most, range between the amount the tax payer pays to the amount spent at the district per pupil. You can look at the school report cards for 2005 and find that the vast majority of districts spend less than 8k/year. Richland One, which pulls in tax dollars from downtown Columbia, spent 9.5K.
    Regardless, your suggestion that “educrats” would have nightmares about vouchers is an oversimplification and demagoguery. If it were just educators worried about the effects of private school choice, then you must think the SC Ed Assoc is all that prevents PPIC legislation. I don’t think our conservative legislature is bowing to the SCEA.

  29. Lee

    Public school teachers are second only to doctors in the vocational group which sends their children to private school. In some areas like Chicago and Washington, DC, where public school teachers make quite a bit of money, more than 33% of them send their children to private school.
    I got my school cost figures from several sources:
    1. I have been keeping them myself since 1977, from the figures published by the various districts.
    2. The $9,260.00 figure for 2002-2003 comes from adding all the money spent by the state and local school districts, including federal funds, and dividing it by the number of student days attended for a full school year. This actually understates the cost by presuming no missed days of school. This figure is the same one given by the SC Dept of Education.
    Dishonest educrats, politicians, and media accomplices talk about “unequal funding” as if the 1977 legislation did not exist, which levels funding by the state giving less to “richer” schools and more to “poor” school districts.
    With a dropout rate of about 50%, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on the remaining ones. The dropouts get zero education.

  30. Dave

    RTH – One of the candidates for ED. Secty stated those numbers but I can’t find the quote. There is no law against spending more money per pupil so why would you question that figure? Maybe someone else can help me find the reference. It will turn up again.

  31. Randy E

    Dave and Lee, the district spending includes money from the state. E.g. I get a paycheck from Richland 2. This includes state and local money. If you add total state dollars spent with total district dollars spent, you have overlap which you probably took into account.
    There two different per pupil amounts possible: one for each district and one for the overall state average which could include spending only at the state level.
    You also have weighted pupil units which takes into account expenses for handicap, special ed, and age of students.
    The focus of private school choice/ vouchers/tax credits is to identify the per pupil cost at the local level to help families pay for private school. Hence, the focus is on district per pupil amounts and related tax burdens. The PPIC proposal was to allow a tax credit to families equal to the amount of the tuition.
    I think we’re debating apples and oranges. The bottom line for me is oversimplifying choice as an “us vs them” approach – “educrat” terminology for example. We’re all better off if education gets better and that’s most of us want, I assume.

  32. Lee

    Even if “all of us want better education”, the problem is that it is not the top priority for many bureaucrats and even many teachers.
    The political conflict is due to entrenched bureaucrats and teachers who are unwilling to return any power to the parents, and unwilling to accept any changes which may result in a smaller administration or lower incomes.
    My figures for school expenditures are correct. They come from various school officials, and they all match. There is something wrong when you have $250,000 being spent per classroom, and the teacher is only being paid $50,000, including benefits, in a building that was paid for in the 1950s. That problem is mismanagement for personal gain.

  33. Randy E

    Lee, the political conflict is also largely due to decision making based on limited or skewed facts. Too many decisions are made without important information.
    Read what Doug, a parent, had to write about his school and teacher. He draws conclusions based on word of mouth and what his student tells him. Parent input is valuable and necessary, but not conlusive.
    It’s simplistic demagoguery to dismiss eduators and beuaracrats out of hand. Lee, to support your claim “many teachers do not make education a top priority” please share with me the names of 10 teachers who do not.
    While you are supporting your claims, please identify administrative positions that are wasteful. Be specific in identifying the position and the duties that are unnecessary.
    You profess a great deal of knowledge about the workings of our eduational system. Please support some of these statements.

  34. Ready to Hurl

    Once again, Lee and Dave can’t support their arguments with “real” facts and figures.
    How can anyone take their outlandish opinions on the larger issues in education seriously?

  35. Lee

    The per-pupil cost figures I posted are very real, enough so to get nothing more than insults and dares for name of specific teachers and administrators and their specific shortcomings. That is a game.
    I challenge the apologists for government schools to justify only 20% of the expenditures going to instruction. Any good teacher could make a lot more charging students a lot less in a rented classroom. Some of them are starting to figure that out, and see vouchers as the financing mechanism to escape their captivity as contractors to the government.
    Is it too much to expect candidates for State Superintendent of Education to have specific ideas of program spending, expansion of what works and abandoment of what doesn’t?

  36. Randy E

    Lee, roughly 80% of a district’s budget is directed to salaries and benefits. Nothing impacts instruction more than a teacher.
    I’m still waiting for you to support your claim about teachers and administration. Please cite some specifics – teachers that do not make education a priority and admin positions and duties are wasteful.

  37. Nathan

    Let me correct a couple of issues above. First, bud, your news story about the “free market” not working is flawed in many respects. Let me first point out the issue that bothers me most, Enron. I am tired of uninformed, uneducated people implying that Arthur Anderson is to blame here. Auditors have inherent limitations in thier ability to audit large companies like Enron. If a CFO is committing fraud, as was the case here, it is difficult to catch. Further, the whole system is designed poorly and is maintained at the status quo by government regulation. Auditors must police thier clients, but that is nearly impossible to do. Imagine that each neighborhood in Lexington had one cop assigned to that neighborhood. Further imagine that he was paid by the neighborhood and could be fired without cause at anytime. He is dependent on that neighborhood to feed his family. So, if the HOA president was caught by this cop smoking a joint in his back yard, do you think the cop would arrest him, or just let it slide? That is what auditors face constantly. Do they pay the bills and allow valid, but aggressive, interpretations of extremely complex accounting rules? Or do they get fired by a client who just finds someone else who will sign off on the transaction? Too often, they must choose to allow the accounting. Don’t quote people who try to argue on this though unless they are someone who can tell a special purpose entity from a subordinated debenture.
    Now, onto school spending. I looked at your stats Randy E. Let me give you the highlights. Spartanburg 2 spends the least in the state per pupil, $6,589 per. Thier english/math pact scores were 92/89. McCormick County spent the most per pupil, $13,771 per(more than doubling Spartanburg 2). Thier scores, 58/58. So, is it the money being spent, or the way it is spent. I once audited the school that spends the second-most in the state. They wasted money constantly. It was downright irresponsible. Now, to get more on point with this, lets look at the scores for two midlands districts, Richland 1 and Lexington 1. Richland 1 spends $11,080 per student for scores of 81/70. (By the way, what I am calling scores is the percentage of students who are adequately performing.) Lexington 1 spends $7,768 per student for scores of 90/91. Where is the funding inequality? How are rural districts being hurt by funding issues? Bottom line is that they do less with more. It is mostly the fault of the parents and communities, but what about those stats convinces you that they could produce better students with even more money?

  38. Lee

    Good post, Nathan, that illustrates the fact that the so-called “underprivileged schools” are getting more money than many of the ones in wealthier districts. Washington, DC spends $16,500 per pupil and produces miserable results.
    Schools are no different than any other business endeavor. You can only do so much with inferior raw materials and uncaring workers (students, parents and teachers). There is a diminishing return on expenditures. $50,000 per pupil spent the wrong way on the wrong students will do nothing to improve education, but it might make some administrators and teachers a lot wealthier.
    The average teacher quits after 5 years. Potential teachers with lots of skills (retired engineers and managers) refuse to tolerate the work enviroment of no discipline. Low-paid teaching assistants with great motivation and proven skills are not developed into degreed teachers. All that is a gross failure of management.

  39. bud

    Nathan, All I’m trying to convey here is that an unfettered free market is no utopian, perfect way of solving all problems. I used to buy into the libertarian mantra but there are just far too many market failures to fully embrace that type of thinking. Enron shows just how dangerous an unchecked, (deregulated) market can be. My thinking has evolved to one of pragmatism over and above any dogmatic philosophy. Clearly the Enron example is a clear example of market failure.
    Having said that I’m fully in favor of taking advantage of market forces as a means of making life for all of us better. A competitive energy industry is one such area (just not the monopolistic nightmare we had with Enron).
    The education system is complicated but certainly a fair dose of competition might be useful here as well. The problem with education is defining success. Given the many variables that can influence test scores we may not be getting a complete picture.
    It’s interesting that you should compare Richland 1 with Lexington 1. I’ve had children in both districts and they’ve all done well. And by the way, Lexington 1 is hardly a rural school district anymore. The home environment is crucial to educational success, regardless of where kids go to school. (Thanks to my kids exposure to solid liberal values all is well in the Bud household).

  40. Lee

    There are no such things as “market failures” anymore that there are “physics failures”. The laws of economics are in force constantly. Most critics simply do not understand what they observe. The greatest source of “market failure” is meddling by people with more political power than management ability.
    Enron, by the way, was not a monopoly. Its growth was created by the deregulation of interstate gas sales and by special favors in that area from President Clinton. A real example of failure was the meddling by the California assembly which created shortages and wild price swings.
    No one says the free market will provide perfection, because it is a human activity, and humans make mistakes. Unlike government, humans in market competition have better motives, and their motives are more visible.

  41. Nathan

    I would contend that Enron is a failure of people’s reliance on government, not the free market. Let me explain.
    Even before thier collapse, most people contended that they didn’t understand Enron. They didn’t know how they made money. So, they relied solely on the reports that Enron filed with the SEC, a government agency, that Enron was a company worth investing in. They trust these numbers because the government said that they had to report them and because the government said that the accounting processes used to create them were okay. The auditor was approved through government policy. In nearly all ways, Enron had a USA stamp of approval.
    Now, imagine that Enron were not a public company with SEC reports. Would you invest in them without understanding thier business model? No, you would want to do more due diligence. You would demand more transparency. You wouldn’t put your hard-earned dollars into it until you knew that there was a profitable plan.
    When government fails, we often blame the private sector. We blame the car for the dent, not the driver who put it there. People point to Enron as a sign of the failure of the private sector. I say that this was a failure of public policy. It was a failure of men who were crooks. It was not the failure of the private sector.

  42. bud

    Sorry Nathan, anyway you spin it Enron was a PRIVATE company. The PRIVATE sector failed us. At the end of the day no amount of spin changes that fact. Perhaps the government, by way of deregulation legislation, played a roll in this disaster. Simply put, Enron did not respond in a favorable way to market forces. And the employees, electricy users in California and stockholders paid the price.

  43. Randy E

    Nathan, you walked into a discussion half way and have a misundestanding. I was not promoting more spending, I was taking issue with Lee’s #s and all his claims which he has yet to support. Lee, I’m still waiting.
    Since you brought it up, there is a great deal more to dealing with education than simply looking at spending. I taught in Lexington 1 and Richland 1. A HUGE factor you are leaving out is the socio-economic level of the students and, as Bud pointed out, the involvement of parents.
    I’m not proposing that we throw money at our problems. I am taking issue with the way
    you and Lee are oversimplifying the situation and drawing conclusions to match.
    If money isn’t the solution, then cutting spending won’t solve Jack in our schools. When people like Lee, who haven’t the foggiest about what’s happening in our classrooms, take pot shots at educators they become red herrings – no better at affecting change than the “educrats” he rails against.

  44. Randy E

    Lee, public schools are a great deal different than any business endeavor. First, the ultimate evaluation is not a financial bottom line. Assessing success is a great deal more complicated and devoid of monetary indicators.
    Second, it is a government entity which is mandated to serve the people. Starbucks can charge what they want, keep the hours they want, and have as many chairs as they want. There’s no board elected to oversee them. There’s no Starbucks report card.
    Third, if a school goes bankrupt, there are serious consequences that affect more than the owner and employees. If Starbucks goes bankrupt, the consumers go to Books-a-million. If Irmo HS goes bankrupt, there’s no squeezing in all those students into another school. Even if there was space, who would teach them? How would they assign the students to classes?
    Lee, watching Grey’s Anatomy does not qualify you as an expert on the healh care profession and having been in school for 12+ years does not qualify you as an expert in education. I’m still waiting for you to support even one of your statements.

  45. Randy E

    Lee can you support these claims you made? “The average teacher quits after 5 years.” An in-depth study indicated that the attrition rate for teachers with 1-3 years of experience is around 7% per year. Overall, teaching has the 2nd lowest attrition level.
    “retired engineers and managers refuse to tolerate the work enviroment of no discipline.” Really? Name 10 that have tried.
    “Low-paid teaching assistants with great motivation and proven skills are not developed into degreed teachers.” How have they proven their skills?

  46. Nathan

    It is not an oversimplification to point out that education cannot be fixed with more spending, it is just the truth. Stats bear that out. After you point out the stats, the “spend-more-educrats” find something else to blame. I have maintained for quite some time that I will not support increased spending in these supposedly “under-funded” schools until there is some financial accountability with what they have.

  47. Randy E

    Nathan: it’s an oversimplification to focus only on spending when talking about the problems in education.
    “Spend-more-educrats” is a great example of your oversimpification. You blame them, but who controls the purse-strings? In Richland County, the districts do NOT have the power to generate revenue. So you should be blaming the “spend-more-councilcrats” who do. Yet, I don’t see you nor Lee blaming them for the spending.
    It’s the height of hypocrisy to rail against how “educrats find something else to blame” when you do nothing but point the finger. I have yet to hear you or Lee offer one iota of a suggestion to improve education.
    Nathan and Lee, before you offer up any more diatribes and demagoguery about spending, please offer a suggestion to improve the ills of education (choice affects maybe 15% of all students so that won’t due).

  48. Dave

    Here is my suggestion. End public “free” for all education after the 7 or 8th grade. From that point, you must qualify to be in a college type curriculum. Those who dont qualify move on to trade schools, art schools, vocation schools. The trade schools last a couple of years and then these students begin plumbing, bricklaying, carpentry, etc. What we have now is a huge number of students who are forced to attend but have zero interest in being there. Lets face reality and teach those who want to learn.

  49. Lee

    * Half of Teachers Quit in 5 Years
    * Having practiced as a consulting engineer and manager for over 30 years, I have met lots of engineers, scientists and managers who would like to teach high public school, but are not going to take the rinky-dink certification classes, put up with classroom chaos, or take orders from principals who would never make the lowest level of management in private industry. The public schools have to accomodate talent, if they want to attract talent.
    * How have teaching assistants proven their skills? By running the classes for years, when teachers are absent. Many are degreed or close to having degrees, often in education and in special areas. If the school really wanted more teachers who have already shown a disposition to stay, they would do everything to convert this proven talent pool into degreed and certfied teachers, instead of exploiting them as low-paid offsets to useless educrats and consultants.

  50. Lee

    Assessing success in public education is only devoid of indicators because educators want it that way, and continually change programs and initiatives to destroy baselines.
    We have career educators running for this office, saying that 8 years is not enough time to expect results. From Grade 1 to leaving elementary school is enough time to affect an entire set of homerooms. If you can’t do it in 5 years, your program is a failure. If you can’t recognize that, you need to seek a lower-level job in a new industry and become trained.

  51. Randy E

    How many of these “rinky dink classes” have you taken. Please tell me you have taken atleast one before making such a statement. You are an engineer that makes objective decisions aren’t you?
    Please share with me the chaos you have seen first hand in the schools. Every day I ACTUALLY walk into a high school and seem to miss this chaos. Please tell me you’ve been in a classroom and seen this first hand before making such a statement.
    These teaching assistants you mention that run the class while the teacher is away, do they come up with the lesson plans? Do they do all the planning? There are substitutes that handle classes while teachers are away. Does this make every substitute qualified? Please tell me you have actual first hand knowledge of these teaching assistants. Please list 5 schools at which you have seen this first hand.
    There are indicators of school performance, but YOU said schools were like any other business. Businesses have a bottom line financially to determine success. Schools do NOT have financial indicators of success, Lee, because they aren’t businesses. That’s a big difference.
    My friend is an engineer. He tells me all the time his managers make uninformed decisions that simply don’t make sense. I imagine this is because they draw conclusions that are subjective and uninformed. Dilbert was based on the experiences of an engineer. Based on this, I would be qualified to tell you what’s wrong with the engineering and technology fields in this country – starting with the problems with management.

  52. Lee

    Schools fail when the managers and employees start believing that education is not a business, and that they don’t have to please the customer.
    Most of them are not that arrogant, but too many are. They don’t the customers to have choices in education, because they don’t want to face competition from better teachers and new ideas. Good teachers and administrators have nothing to fear from competition.

  53. Randy E

    you’ve made several disparaging comments on this blog. I have challenged you to support your comments which you fail to do (save a citation from a teacher’s union – data from any union is suspect). Any time you want to see what really happens in a classroom, I’ll bring you in for a visit.
    There are real problems in education which are compounded by the demagoguery of individuals that draw conclusions and make judgements without valid information or data. This draws energy and attention from the real problem. This thread is a great example. More time was spent debating broad and uninformed claims than debating the merits of candidate proposals. There’s a big reason we have trouble reforming education.

  54. Ready to Hurl

    LOL, Randy E, you’ve discovered the futility of debating a fanatical ideologue. I often encourage Lee to join the reality-based community– or, at least, try to support some of his assertions. Lee’s position seems to be that his opinion should prevail by simple brilliance. LOL
    BTW, Lee, there’s just one “small” error in your argument that “There are no such things as ‘market failures’ anymore that there are ‘physics failures’.”
    Markets, of any sort, are man-made economic systems for exchanging goods and services. Markets are, theoretically, governed by man-made rules which are supposed to be enforced by people.
    Markets are not forces of nature. Physics is the most accurate compilation of human-devised theory and observation of natural phenomenon. Humans didn’t create gravity, for instance, and can’t legislate it out of existence.
    For decades the Soviet Union existed without “markets.” The experiment ultimately failed dismally but I challenge you to find any place on earth that, even for a millisecond, can contrive to exist without contending with gravity.
    Most certainly Enron is a spectacular example of “market failure.” Apply Nathan’s illogic to the USSR and I guess that a Communist apologist would argue that people failed the system rather than vice versa.
    What else can you call the loss of billions of investor dollars in a super-sized con game?

  55. Lee

    Even communism has markets. Communism is a form of capitalism, a demented form where little dictators arbitrarily set prices, wages, and distribution.
    Free markets allow people to make the best decisions by allowing them to make mistakes. Socialism guarantees lots of mistakes.
    I thought Randy E was making lots of disparaging remarks about teaching assistants and substitutes. If he really believes none of them are potential full-time certified teachers, why doesn’t he refuse to use them, and demand that his school stop using them?
    As usual, the apologists for socialist schools have no ideas for improvement, only personal attacks on those who do have ideas. Lack of ideas and will to improve from within are exactly why reform is being pushed from outside, by the customers.

  56. Lee

    I asked several elementary teachers today about their assistants and substitutes. They said many of them have been teaching for years, do come up with lesson plans, and about half of them have college degrees, often in education. They just worked in other fields or stayed at home with their children, and now work in the schools. They also thought the administrators were wrong to not nurture and promote these people. I see the same mentality in Randy E.

  57. Randy E

    Lee: keep clicking your ruby slippers together and repeating the same mantra.
    Hurl: I learned the lesson long ago about fanatics. I only react when they make uninformed and degrading comments. It’s ironic that an engineer manager would draw so many conclusions with limited or no supporting information. I hope were’re not civil engineering or I’m not driving over any more bridges.

  58. Lee

    Randy, contrary to the straw man you would like to create as your adversary, I have had a mother, six aunts, a grandmother, and wife who taught public school. In addition, I have volunteered, and donated supplies to needy students. Your contempt for parents and taxpayers, especially those with more experience and education than yourself, is a character flaw you share with many in the government school camp.
    I will continue to swap my experience and the very real facts about public school spending with your insults, but I challenge you to come up with some improvements of your own.

  59. Randy E

    Ahhh, a request for some meaningful dialogue.
    First, Lee don’t play this off like I have been the mudslinger. Everyone can go back to your earlier posts and see that you painted educators and schools with a broad brush. When I challenged you to support these debasing claims you would or could not. Don’t come in here with guns blazing then complain about taking a bullet.
    Now to the question of improvements. If you go back to my first post, you will see that I specified 2 major issues: the disparity between white and minority students and the disparity between suburban schools and those in rural and urban settings.
    To address the disparity between white and minority students we first have to identify why we have this problem. I have seen first hand that some of my minority students do not value education, partly as a result of parents and of peers. At the high school level, we can help them to identify post-high school goals, help them to draw up a plan to achieve those goals, then work on their self-help skills so they can help themselves. That’s one possibility.
    The disparity between suburban and other schools probably includes the ethnic disparity. In addition, it can involve resources (not just money). WIS had a great piece on the difference in resources between a “rich” and a “poor” school. This includes quality of teachers. In lieu of simply funneling money from rich to poor, why not channel resources and targeted grants. For example, create a mechanism for rich districts to send unwanted supplies to poor districts (I have seen rich schools throw away lots of useful materials). The state can send specific supplies such as computers to the poor districts in lieu of money. Finally, there can be an incentive plan to attract teachers to these districts.
    There can be put in place accountability for the use of these resources. A district must have oversight of their spending and use of resources to justify the extras. If a district squanders what they have, they don’t get outside help.
    Ok Lee, without referring to uncaring teachers, “educrats”, and “socialist schools”, give me some feedback.

  60. Dave

    Randy, your ideas consist of more of the same tweaking and bandaiding that can have some positive impact but is tantamount to bailing out a sinking ship with a soup can. Dealing with education adverse students, no matter what race they are, at the high school level is way too late to change habits and practices. Radical change has to occur in the elementary grades. I certainly dont claim to have all the answers but we need much more action than sharing excess supplies and old computers. Change has to impact an entire family, not just the kid in the classroom setting.

  61. Lee

    Randy talks in vague speculation, which anyone who had never set foot in an American school could come up with in 60 seconds. It is a dance around the problems.
    Why haven’t the schools already been, “…help(ing) them to identify post-high school goals, help them to draw up a plan to achieve those goals, then work on their self-help skills so they can help themselves…”?
    If they have, why hasn’t it worked?
    I think you need a stronger dose of medicine, like paying some taxes and tuition, and losing the white liberal support for their victimhood games.
    If there is a “disparity between urban and suburban schools”, why are Hand and Dreher, with 50% minority enrollment, among the top schools in the nation? Think how much better they would be if they got more minority students to wise up and get with the program.

  62. Nathan

    All of these specials done by the media, like WIS and SC ETV are done for the purpose of proving that the rural schools are underfunded. So, they sent out reporters to look at the disrepair of the schools and conclude that there needs to be more money. In the same way, you could conclude that I need a raise if you came to my home and found garbage on the floor, dishes piled up in the sink, bugs on the walls, and bills unpaid. The issue is the use of the money. When auditing a rural school district in this state, I found areas where district officials had hired outside consultants to perform thier duties, yet still collected a check for showing up each day. I found complete breakdowns in financial controls that lead to costly mistakes. I heard about teachers who took school property (laptops) home with them on maternity leave. I met teachers who struggled to find extremely expensive equipment because they decided that they didn’t want to use it anymore after spending taxpayer dollars on it. I saw a district that borrowed money from a bank but forgot to deposit the check for months. You want first hand knowledge, I have it. I have seen it. Those schools are in disrepair because the administration offices are staffed full of people who don’t really care. They are run by people who see a mess and complain that someone else hasn’t been hired to clean it up when it is thier job to do so. You can’t tell me that the issue is money because neither the stats nor first hand knowledge and common sense show that.
    But how do you fix education? First ask, is education broken? I don’t really think so. Throwing more money at it won’t help. “Targeted grants” will only lead to schools that spend money on something just because there is a grant for it. I don’t think education really needs repairs.
    Families need repairs. Students need repairs. Discipline should be imposed. Strict discipline. And for those kids who prove that they will not learn, cut them loose. See, we conservatives don’t believe that the government can save everyone. Not every child is willing to learn. For those who obviously have chosen not to learn, teach them a trade if they will listen, and send them on thier way. You can only offer children the opportunity of a quality education. You can’t make them take it.

  63. Nathan

    Enron is a failure because of government regulation that leads people to believe that the sky isn’t blue. Nobody understood Enron, but the trusted that the government regulation was going to keep them safe. So they placed thier billions of dollars in the hands of a company that was little more than a shell game. We have millions of companies in this country that are private and outside of the regulation of the SEC. I would submit to you that few of those Enron investors would have loaned a similar private enterprise a penny with the amount of knowledge they had about Enron. That is the problem.

  64. Lee

    Nathan, the liberals know that not every student is capable of being educated, just as they know that the billions dumped into ghetto housing and welfare won’t save many people.
    But helping poor people, or trying to, or professing to, is big business. A lot of Volvos and Saabs were bought with salaries paid in the Helping the Poor industry.

  65. Randy E

    LOL, Rage against the machine.
    Dave: if you had stepped into a high school in the past 20 years, you’d see that this is not the “same bandaiding and tweaking.” I have personally had success in affecting such changes in minority students. Show me where the focus of reform has included: first, putting the responsibility for education on the shoulders of students and second, outlining an accountability mechanism for the spending of districts getting extra funding.
    Lee: the “vague speculation” on this blog comes from a demagogue who’s entire perspective on education comes from asking a couple people what it’s like in the schools. It’s the same lack of informed decision-making and analysis which is the reason the Chinese and Indians are overtaking us in the field of engineering.
    Nathan: education has become polarized and broken for many students. The students taking the top level classes are getting an amazing education in high school if they want it.
    We offer a gret deal more AP courses than before. Students at greater numbers take algebra in middle school which allows them to take more math courses in hs. Spring Valley, for example, has a magnet program in which students conduct research comparable to college senior work. At the other end, we have problems.
    A third of our students in SC last year where in the math tech program. Two-thirds of these students failed the end of course exam for algebra. This is a problem because many of these students leave high school with a substandard education and a skewed sense of responsibility and work ethic.

  66. Randy E

    Lee: your take on helping the poor is a shame. While it’s true there are individuals who prosper, your oversimplification ignores and demeans the efforts of many good people that give a great deal to help yet do not make much money.
    It’s one thing to take issues with problems in our schools or social institutions, it’s another to use blanket statements to disparage people in these fields. Again, I am surprised that an individual in a field that supposedly requires so much critical thought can be so simplistic in analysis.

  67. Lee

    Randy, you keep insulting us, without explaining why so many students drop out, why schools cost so much more today to turn out the same few stellar students as the 1960s, and why you have no specific ideas for fixing something which is obviously broken.
    * Which programs don’t work and should be abolshed right now?
    * Why did management make yet another mistake of starting such failed programs?
    * Can’t we save enough money by ending the failed programs to pay for the next batch of new programs?
    * How much more money should taxpayers spend on government schools?
    * What exact results will come from that spending?
    * How do you KNOW that the spending will produce those results?
    * What will be the rewards for success of those programs? What will be the punishment for failure?
    * How will the taxpayers audit these programs to measure their cost effectiveness?

  68. Randy E

    Lee: addressing the drop out rate won’t change the fact that the US share of the technological market has dropped from 41% to 18% in the last 30 years. What are the managers of our engineering firms doing about this?

  69. Lee

    The bad managers are outsourcing the jobs to India or importing H1-B workers, trying to reduce costs even while product quality plummets.
    Good managers are paying more for top talent and automating manufacturing to remove grunt labor from direct costs.
    By the way, only 41% of foreign “tech workers” are actually tech workers. Most are lower managers, accountants, and teachers (11%). The average foreigner works for $13,000 less annually than the American teacher.
    I have my industry under control. Let’s get your attention back on the schools, and the questions you cannot answer.

  70. Randy E

    Lee, the numbers don’t lie. American engineering is performing at a lower level relative to international competition. You are justifying lower numbers? Not even educrats try to justify lower test scores and you want education to follow this example?

  71. Lee

    Try to keep your mind on improving your school, like we taxpayers are doing.
    Randy, you haven’t a clue about engineering. Industry and our politicians tell us we need foreign talent to make up for the failure of our American schools. That is a lie based on ignorance, but it should be a wake up call to you educators.
    American engineering’s problems are the creation of politicians, not skills. By the way, the average design engineer in America or Japan works 56 hours at the office, in case you want to compare that to the average “underpaid” teacher.

  72. Randy E

    Lee, are you blaming others? I know enough about engineering from asking engineers I know questions and from what I read.
    China and India are putting out more engineers than the US. It’s a shame the managers don’t develop more talent to boost their ranks.
    You still haven’t addressed why the US has lost so much market share of the technology market.

  73. Lee

    China is still having to buy and steal all their technology. What India calls “engineering schools” are like our technical schools. They are technicians.
    Sort of like Microsoft puffing up a network technician as a “Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer”. A real systems engineer is an integrator of a variety of technologies, using lots of economic and other analyses, to oversee a project like building a nuclear submarine. A few real system engineers and industrial engineers would work wonders on our schools.
    Now get your mind back on education and try to answer some of my questions that have you so stumped in your “field of expertise”.

  74. Randy E

    Lee: Fact, more PH.D. engineering graduates in the US are foreign born. Fact, US market share of technology has dropped from 41% to 18% in the past 30 years. You have nothing to offer but excuses. Why can’t you guys keep up? The numbers don’t lie.

  75. Lee

    College faculty like foreign PhDs for several reasons:
    1. Most are going home, so they are no competition for faculty jobs.
    2. Many are from wealthy upper strata, with no economic pressure to finish school or use up stipend money.
    3. Foreign students fit suit the old model of universities, rather than reaching out to working American students with night classes. GA Tech does more of that, while USC is dismantling their programs.
    4. Foreign students, by custom, do not challenge authority. They are easier to manage by the faculty.
    5. American businesses lie to and bribe gullible US Senators in order to import foreign workers illegally under student loopholes, replacing American workers. American students are not stupid. They see the game being played. That is why enrollments are down in fields like Computer Science. Some of the highest unemployment rates in California are among experienced employees with graduate degrees in engineering an biology.
    The question for American educators is why they take the low road, from K-12 to PhD, instead of stepping up to the challenge of modern education needs.

  76. Randy E

    My engineer friend explained to me how there is managerial subjectiveness in the evaluation process of engineers. This jibes with the subjective evaluation you make of businesses and schools.
    I continue to find it ironic that a manager in a field that must consistently use data and science would completely rely on egocentric and myopic analysis. It’s true that art reflects reality. The art in this case being the Dilbert cartoon.

  77. Lee

    I find it sad that you bother to continue posting diversionary drivel in an effort to avoid discussing school improvement. If you care that little, about the topic, why post at all? Is it just to disrupt the exchange of ideas which threaten the status quo that you inhabit?

  78. Lee

    So stop stereotyping all us who are asking uncomfortable questions the high cost of public education.

  79. Lee

    Jesse Jackson become a millionaire running a Head Start program financed by federal schooll vouchers.

Comments are closed.