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Betsy DeVos statement on historically black colleges and universities

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Replies to: Betsy DeVos statement on historically black colleges and universities

  • marvin100marvin100 Registered User Posts: 9,014 Senior Member
    Outstanding comments. Thank you, @fretfulmother !
  • katliamomkatliamom Registered User Posts: 10,346 Senior Member
    edited March 11
    @WISdad23 -- just because people can come and go doesn't mean the job isn't exploitative, given that people with the same training do the same job in the same city and within the same district for 30% more money. The young teachers (most straight out of college, and some still working on their credentials) come for the renown, and then go -- elsewhere -- for better money. Huge teacher turnover, as with most charters, btw.

    And the reason the school is renown is mostly because the private group running the school is phenomenally well connected politically and economically. (The school's main building is named after a big tech multi-millionaire, and the high school was runner-up nationally for a graduation speech by this guy named Barack Obama.) The reason it's renown academically is because they simply get rid of all the kids who can't handle it academically. Where do they go? To the regular (and underfunded) neighborhood publics.
  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School Registered User Posts: 2,397 Senior Member
    @katliamom , Are you are speaking about the entire 'mainstreaming ' philosophy that is pervasive in public school system for disabled kids? Or are you just referring to kids who are otherwise OK but can't handle academics? Why should any school with superior academics- public or private- be forced to keep kids who cannot handle it? Most high schools have multiple tracks which theoretically should match the child with the level of curriculum that they can handle.

    You say the the local public school is underfunded, but some of the worse results come from the best funded schools. Look at Newark, or Kansas City MO for example. Money is not the problem. Incompetent, calcified administration, jaded teachers, union rules, and kids who attend school for social instead of academic reasons all all factors in lousy results.

    Those renowned private schools have better academics because they hire better and more motivated teachers, spend less on administration, and the kids work harder. Kids who attend have higher expectations from their family too.

    @fretfulmother , I think most people would prefer to have control of their own retirement funds. That allows you to match your risk profile to your investments. For instance, some people are very socially active and choose a portfolio that does not invest in tobacco or defense firms. Others might want to withdrawal a large sum of cash for a retirement home or to fund the education of a relative instead of having a fixed payment, or would prefer to backload withdrawals while a spouse works.

    A lot of teachers want to teach at a charter or private school because they want control and flexibility, or what to teach in a school with few behavior problems, or like smaller classes etc. They are not the 2nd team, and I would hardly call the teachers in unionized districts paragons of their profession.
  • katliamomkatliamom Registered User Posts: 10,346 Senior Member
    edited March 11
    "A are you are speaking about the entire 'mainstreaming ' philosophy that is pervasive in public school system for disabled kids?" No. Speaking about kids who for a variety of reasons -- including learning disabilities which aren't addressed by charters, as they're too expensive to deal with -- can't keep up.

    "Most high schools have multiple tracks which theoretically should match the child with the level of curriculum that they can handle." Charters can do whatever the heck they want to do, and that includes not having "multiple tracks." Many charters prefer to get rid of the weaker kids as their test scores bring down the school average, tarnishing their reputation as the saviors of public education.

    "Those renowned private schools have better academics because they hire better and more motivated teachers" Boy, you've really drunk the kool aid, haven't you?
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 59,304 Senior Member
    I think most people would prefer to have control of their own retirement funds.

    Perhaps most people who are well informed about saving and investing for retirement would prefer that.

    However, many people are not so well informed, and may prefer that investment professionals deal with it and promise to pay a defined benefit pension to them when they retire rather than deal with the investing money on their own (especially if they or someone they know has had poor results "swimming with Wall Street sharks" before). Indeed, defined benefit pensions presumably were created because many people did poorly at saving and investing for retirement, and it was better for the company to offer defined benefit pensions than to have retirees who were poor, or older employees wanting to retire but cannot because they have no retirement savings, either of which could harm employee and potential employee goodwill with respect to the employer.

    Of course, some people got nasty surprises when their employers failed to fund the defined benefit pensions properly so that there was no money in them when they retired.
  • MomOf3DDsMomOf3DDs Registered User Posts: 49 Junior Member
    @TooOld4School

    Swap your "elite" charter/private school with the Newark public. Do you really think you will have different results among students? Will the teachers in the charter suddenly become poor teachers and vice versa? The thing you fail/refuse to acknowledge is that many students have various hardships that hinder their education greatly. When you fault a failing student because they are attending school "for social instead of academic reasons," you are exposing you lack of knowledge and empathy of how the world is for many of these kids. Stick that hungry, scared, tired kid in "your" school and tell me how "your" teachers (and classmates) deal with their issues.
  • fretfulmotherfretfulmother Registered User Posts: 1,826 Senior Member
    @TooOld4School -

    "Those renowned private schools have better academics because they hire better and more motivated teachers, spend less on administration, and the kids work harder. Kids who attend have higher expectations from their family too."

    Better Teachers - not in my experience. But if you have direct experience as I do, I welcome actual data.

    More-motivated Teachers - very unlikely - again, please share data. In my own career, motivated teachers want to reach kids who really need them, and those who also want to really teach deep/advanced material would choose to do e.g. AP courses but still in public school. Perhaps you do get starry-eyed new teachers in some Charter schools.

    From what I see, private schools attract teachers who are generally OK, but who largely are new to teaching and have subject-area training with little education training. This looks shiny, "ooh, Harvard!" but may or may not lead to good results in the classroom. Sometimes it's fine. Sometimes there is a revolving door. Certainly I wouldn't characterize it as better or more innovative teaching as a general rule.

    You are correct that having selected a small subset of students to attend these schools (and charging for the privilege) the schools can appear to have stellar results.

    Interestingly, when I look at the results at the private schools where I taught, and compare them to the students in the top few levels at public school (where you might have comparable ability/motivation), I see better achievements, better/more college acceptances, and more interesting employment opportunities, for the suburban public school graduates.

    It's also sort of similar to what we see in the studies of those who were admitted to HYPSM and attended, vs. those who were admitted and did not attend (went to state Us in most cases) - very similar outcomes, with some "big fish in small pond" advantages for the latter group.

    One more thing: apparently, looking purely at test score data (which has its flaws), the school (any school) influences something like only 20% of score outcome, vs. 80% that is dependent on income, family structure, family education, local strength of communities, homelessness, health, etc. I thought this was very interesting, and yes, it does support your question as to why MA has its successes (I would posit the rest of MA's policies/culture have a major impact).

    "@fretfulmother , I think most people would prefer to have control of their own retirement funds. That allows you to match your risk profile to your investments. For instance, some people are very socially active and choose a portfolio that does not invest in tobacco or defense firms. Others might want to withdrawal a large sum of cash for a retirement home or to fund the education of a relative instead of having a fixed payment, or would prefer to backload withdrawals while a spouse works."

    If you have a study that shows this, I'd love to see it. What I believe to be true is that most *lobbyists and CEOs* in charge of such things, would love people to have to bear their own retirement risk. (Up to and including those who push to end social security.)

    However, just in case you are correct, I've never heard of an employer that restricts a person only to a defined-benefit plan. You are welcome to direct additional withholdings to a 401(k) (or for teachers, often 403(b) or 457) plan or even to an IRA.

    While public school pensions do require a withholding for their pension plan, at least in MA there is no withholding (nor eligibility) for social security - and I will admit, it's also more than the SS withholding would be. It has to be, because as I have stated several times, there is ZERO cost to anyone but teachers for teacher pension plans.

    I think we have to accept the reality that for a higher and higher percentage of USAmerican workers, there just isn't enough money to cover needed living expenses in addition to retirement savings. Policy-makers can pretend it's about individual choices, but that does not tell the whole story. Real wages (inflation-adjusted) have fallen for the middle class, and certainly for the lower-middle class, over the past decades. I know of no alternative interpretation for the numbers.

    @ucbalumnus - you are correct, and luckily there are pension insurance guarantor companies now as well. Part of the problem (most?) occurs when companies (or the state of Illinois) refrain from actually putting their withholdings into safe accounts and instead play with the money that is supposed to be set aside for pension obligations.

    I was interested to learn that in comparing the IL professor pensions with the MA teacher pensions, the COLA calculations for IL are on the whole amount, whereas in MA, they are on the equivalent SS that would have been earned (much less). I suppose that is one reason MA's plan is so much healthier. And, perhaps, more equitable in terms of what COLA is reasonable to expect in retirement when looking at a whole State/Commonwealth's worth of people.

    "Union rules" - again, seems to be a general accusation to use words that some feel are loaded, without actual content here.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 59,304 Senior Member
    Part of the problem (most?) occurs when companies (or the state of Illinois) refrain from actually putting their withholdings into safe accounts and instead play with the money that is supposed to be set aside for pension obligations.

    Well, they are supposed to "play with the money" (i.e. invest it). But often the big mistake (or wishful thinking or way to deliberately put less money in the pension fund than actually needed) is assuming a rate of return on investments that is higher than what it actually ends up being. Granted, future investment returns cannot be predicted perfectly, but there is a strong temptation to assume optimistic rates of return, so that current contributions to the pension fund can be reduced, allowing money to be spent on other current items (or booked as earnings or surplus or lower deficit), while leaving future people with the problem if the optimism is misplaced.
  • fretfulmotherfretfulmother Registered User Posts: 1,826 Senior Member
    edited March 12
    "A lot of teachers want to teach at a charter or private school because they want control and flexibility, or what to teach in a school with few behavior problems, or like smaller classes etc. They are not the 2nd team, and I would hardly call the teachers in unionized districts paragons of their profession."

    Woops, forgot this in my previous post; sorry!

    Um..no. Let's separate private and charter here, first.

    In private schools, you do get some control over curriculum, but this is often at the cost of more preps. For instance, from my own experience:

    Private: taught 2 sections of Physics, 1 Algebra II Honors, 1 Geometry Honors, 1 CS, 1 Env Science
    Yes, I chose exactly what to teach in these classes. That was pretty cool. But of course, there are always pressures to match your colleagues, use standard books, etc. And it's a hell of a job to do those five courses all at once.

    Public: generally all Physics or Chemistry, sometimes both, typically all either regular or Honors - but at most four or five sections total
    The department makes up the curriculum subject to state guidelines, with plenty of teacher input including writing our own assessments; it's sometimes annoying to modify curriculum for state rules (e.g. no organic chemistry) but we can always add units of our own interest if we have time. The focus on one or two areas means that my students get much more attention to their particular course.

    Class size - yes, private schools try to keep it smaller, say max of 18 vs max of 25 kids per section - but of course this varies with enrollments as well. The ranges certainly overlap. At charter schools, virtually always class sizes are enormously bigger than either private or public.

    Flexibility: very low in any teaching job - this is something important to remember; there isn't a lot of flexibility in time or duties. What there is, is generally a more family-schedule-focused set of time when you are on duty.

    Behavior - private schools can be better or worse as previously discussed. All adolescents have issues, but administration response matters a LOT. This varies with school, and not necessarily in predictable ways. Charter schools sometimes have fewer behavior problems because of draconian rules/methods. My student-at-clothing-store source told me that for instance, the doors are locked five minutes before first bell, and you get a cut if you aren't there by then, and can't go to school that day. That's just for tardies; they have even stricter punishments for other infractions.

    I personally am a teacher in part because I like teenagers, and I have high standards but also like to view the kids as distinct individuals. I would not like to be bound by charter-style rules about how to control them (completely aside from all the other yucky aspects of such a job).

    I understand you say that you would "hardly call the teachers in unionized districts paragons of their profession" - but I'm not really seeing evidence or even personal anecdotes as to why you feel this way. So I won't take it personally.

    Interestingly, very high proportions of people do feel good about their local schools, even when those schools are "failing" by outside benchmarks. I was sort of surprised to learn this, even as a proponent of public schools. I kind of thought a lot of people might agree with the angrier yelling that we hear in the news. But when pollsters ask about schools in general, people complain, but seem to like their own neighborhood schools. I'm not sure how to interpret this.
  • MomOf3DDsMomOf3DDs Registered User Posts: 49 Junior Member
    "Interestingly, very high proportions of people do feel good about their local schools, even when those schools are "failing" by outside benchmarks. I was sort of surprised to learn this, even as a proponent of public schools. I kind of thought a lot of people might agree with the angrier yelling that we hear in the news. But when pollsters ask about schools in general, people complain, but seem to like their own neighborhood schools. I'm not sure how to interpret this."

    I think this is the nature of people. If it is said enough that schools are failing, it must be true and someone must be blamed. It also gives people a "way out" if they are having their own problems. Pass the buck so to say.
  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School Registered User Posts: 2,397 Senior Member
    @katliamom , Yes, I have drunk the kool-aid. Perhaps you could make a suggestion on how to improve Newark schools, since the $100 million Zuckerberg gave them was consumed with no tangible results. That's on top of the appx $24K/student that Newark already spends. Spending that kind of money for 20% proficiency is just ridiculous.

    @fretfulmother , please don't take anything personally. There are really great teachers in public systems, just as there are awful teachers. Unions make it more difficult to fire the bad ones, so they accumulate. As with other unionized operations, things tend to stagnate despite the efforts of many good front line (e.g. teachers) people, their suggestions fall into black holes, and eventually they lose heart.

    IMO, the issues are based on the systemic problems in the public schools; the lack of accountability and innovation, the centralized and bloated bureaucracies, the overpaid and voluminous administration and the political meddling and cronyism that tends to fester in bloated bureaucracies. My experience was as a parent, board member, and vendor to mid and large sized systems , it is just shocking to see the huge number of administrators, purchasing people, initiative people, compliance people, marketing people, IT people, etc that are overhead. In a private business the same amount of work could be accomplished by 1/3rd of the staff, and decisions would be made in a tenth of the time.

    I also agree with your statement about less experienced teachers at private and charter school. I am not convinced that beyond the first few years, additional experience adds much value to an essentially identical job.

    Charter schools were developed to work outside of the bureaucracy. Private schools, obviously, are free from the same. I just don't see all of that overhead being beneficial to anyone. They also are not like a public systems in that they do not serve all students. That is a good thing. Outcomes will be better for those students than in the public system because they better fit the group of students that they choose to serve. The public system can improve or lose those students. Either way the students win, which is the entire point.


  • ZinheadZinhead Registered User Posts: 2,193 Senior Member
    edited March 12
    @Postmodern -
    Your post #136 clearly blames college costs on the mere founding of the DOE, yet you have not shown any data to support that.

    I did not say that. My statement was "It is no coincidence that since the DOE was in 1979, the cost of college has risen at more than twice the rate of inflation."

    The Department of Education was founded by the Carter administration in 1979. Since Cater took power in 1977, there was a deliberate trend by that administration to funnel more money into education. For example,
    In 1977 annual Stafford loan limits went from $1,000 to $2,500, and in 1981 aggregate Stafford loan limits went from $7,500 to $12,500 (http://www.finaid.org/loans/historicallimits.phtml). These are drastic increases whose dates bracket the founding of the Department of Education.

    At the same time, the Middle Income Student Assistance Act (MISAA) was passed in 1978. This act widened eligibility for Pell Grants and open subsidized guaranteed loans to any student regardless of income or financial need. The founding of the Department of Eduction in 1979 and increased subsidized loans and college tuition are no coincidences; they were all part decisions made by the Carter administration to appeal to the eduction establishment as a voting block.

    Please don't mis-characterize other peoples statements. It is a disagreeable habit.
    Fine. Here's one that goes back to 1972 and shows pretty close parity until the financial crisis of 2008

    http://college-education.procon.org/files/1-college-education-images/median-income-v-college-tuition-not-inflation-adjusted.JPG

    Here is the source article for that table.

    http://college-education.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=005532

    If you had bothered to read the source article, you would have seen that the next table in the article has the same data points but adjusts them for inflation.

    http://college-education.procon.org/files/1-college-education-images/median-income-v-college-tuition-inflation-adjusted.JPG

    If you look at the above table, you will hopefully notice that average private school tuition is flat between 1979 and 1981, and after that point it increases dramatically passing median income for women in 1993 and nearly reaching the level of median income for men by 2012.

    Thank you for linking to the website. I will bookmark it and use refer to it in the future.

    @ucbalumnus -
    With respect to federal financial aid and rising college tuitions, note that federal Pell grant amounts have increased rather slowly compared to college tuitions, and federal Stafford or direct loan amounts have been the same since 2007. So pinning the blame for the last decade's rapid rise in college tuitions on increased federal financial aid increases misses most of the reason, whatever it is.

    Pell grant amounts: https://www.lanecc.edu/sites/default/files/budget/financial_aid_award_levels.pdf
    Pell grant amounts in inflation-adjusted dollars: https://trends.collegeboard.org/student-aid/figures-tables/maximum-and-average-pell-grants-over-time
    Stafford or direct loan amounts: http://www.finaid.org/loans/historicallimits.phtml

    Unless I missed something, all of the links you provided deal with individual limits and not with aggregate loan amounts. Sure, the individual limits may be have been stable or have increased slowly, but if the number of students who access Pell, Stafford, Parent Plus or other student loans doubles, the total loan volume will increase dramatically.

    The following table from the St. Louis Fed indicates that student loan debt has increased from $480B in 2006 to more than $1,400B in 2016, so there is strong evidence that more people are taking out bigger loans and not paying them off as quickly.

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?id=SLOAS,#0

    @fractalmstr -
    I applaud you for taking the time to post lengthy counter-arguments here, even though your viewpoints tend not to be very popular on this heavy-left leaning forum. It's good to have both sides of the story!

    Thank you. Dignity Always Dignity
  • katliamomkatliamom Registered User Posts: 10,346 Senior Member
    @TooOld4School -- my comment about kool aid had to do with your claim that private schools have better academics because they hire more motivated teachers. By that logic, all it would take to fix Newark schools is taking the faculty of, say, Philips Exeter or St. Paul's and move them to New Jersey. Yea, right.
  • fretfulmotherfretfulmother Registered User Posts: 1,826 Senior Member
    Thank you, @marvin100 !

    I guess I disagree with many of your points, @TooOld4School - but to take the one that I've been mulling today, I'm surprised you don't see the value of experience in doing one's job better each year.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 11,472 Senior Member
    I also agree with your statement about less experienced teachers at private and charter school. I am not convinced that beyond the first few years, additional experience adds much value to an essentially identical job.

    Would you say the same about a pilot, mechanic, computer tech/programmer, engineer, attorney, sales/marketing rep, etc? Personally, I'd feel someone who said that about any profession, including teaching is just exhibiting profound cluelessness about the occupation itself at the very least.
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