Catch up With Other Countries?

Catch up With Other Countries?


My response to:


Betsy DeVos: How We Can Catch Up to Other Countries in Education

The U.S. secretary of education reflects on lessons from her trip abroad

By Betsy DeVos

June 28, 2018

As usual I like to know the educational background of those I criticize.

She has a BA in Business Economics. This makes her infinitely qualified to be Secretary of Education — NOT. Note that almost no Secretary of Education had an undergraduate degree in Education, nor were teachers. Secretary Bell (under Reagan) had a PhD in Higher (College) Education was the one exception but then again he is responsible for the bogus report, A Nation at Risk.

Betsy DeVos (or the DeVos family) is infamous for making a bunch of money off of a pyramid scheme called Amway.

Betsy DeVos said, “Education and workforce policies have always been intimately linked, yet for decades the federal government has addressed them separately with two different departments. President Donald Trump recently announced a bold plan to remedy that with a new Department of Education and the Workforce that would reduce the federal footprint in education and make the federal government more responsive to the full range of needs faced by American students and workers. It would also help catch us up to how students in other countries pursue their education.”

No they have not been always intimately linked. Only in the minds of progressives that think that schools should have some utility. We’ve never educated for jobs in the past, until the bogus report, A Nation at Risk, was published in April of 1983. Please read the Sandia Report, published in 1990. It dispels many of the myths that the A Nation at Risk, purported. One was the fact that education of the masses has very little to do with the economy. Granted we were losing economically to Japan and Germany but education of the masses would not change this. Education of the masses was NOT responsible for us becoming the largest economy on Earth. We became the largest economy on Earth circa 1880, during the Gilded Age, when not even 10% were graduating high school and before mandatory education for all. We got that 10% high school graduate rate in 1910, or 30 years later.

Catch up with other countries. Really? How many Presidents have said this? All of them recently? The PISA test is only 21 years old and is given once every three years and each time they give just one of the three tests. So, it takes nearly 10 (9 literal) years to see any change in any one of the three subjects. Let’s say that math test was given this year, so in 9 years it will be given again. So, it takes nearly a decade to find out if the changes you made were successful or not. These results are not very helpful.

Betsy DeVos relayed, “I saw such approaches during my first international trip as the U.S. secretary of education to schools in Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Each country takes a holistic approach to education to prepare students for career and life success. But it might be surprising to learn one topic didn’t come up: school choice.”

It is not surprising as Europe is more socialistic than the US. France has even had a Communist President, in the not too distant past. They prepare their kids for a career and life success? How does one do that? Nobody has a functioning crystal ball. I notice you did not say prepare them for college.

Switzerland is expected to have 32% of its young graduate college, 2011 The Netherlands already has 32% attainment in college degrees. In the UK 25-33% are going to colleges. Population of the UK is about 66 million, 17 million for The Netherlands, and 8.5 million in Switzerland. I am just trying to show their lack of large scale college graduates.

All three and OECD average are below our 44% college graduates, in the US.

Betsy DeVos stated, “I visited several different schools that are providing new and exciting learning opportunities for students at all levels. But “school choice” doesn’t dominate the conversation in these countries, because freedom in education isn’t controversial—it’s common sense. In the United States, some view offering families the freedom to make educational decisions with contempt. Defenders of the status quo fear that greater choice for parents and flexibility for educators will lead to underfunded schools and ultimately harm student performance.”

It already does harm kids. With Charter schools about maybe 17% do better, 48% do about the same and 35% do worse than public schools.

The ones that do better either cherry pick their kids (or kick them back to the public schools if they start failing the state test), or go to school 50% more or teach mostly Elementary Schools which is the easiest level to teach.

So, they do worse more than twice as much as they do better!!! So as a group why tout them? You just highlight to one or two successes and judge the whole industry on them. You also take one or two bad public schools and judge the whole public education system based on them. These are two examples of Hasty Generalizations errors in logic. It is funny, almost, that most people consider their school as great but everyone else’s as bad. How is this possible? I say that through people like you that say that the American education system is bad.

These charter schools are NOT very flexible when it comes to teaching! Their teaching is to the test, whatever state mandated tests that come along. This is most assuredly not flexible.

<<>>   suggests that the traditional teaching method is best.

Betsy DeVos espoused, “In the countries I visited, education is oriented around the distinct needs of each student. In the Netherlands, freedom in education is enshrined in the constitution, which requires that the state provide equal funding for both publicly run and private schools. Two-thirds of students in the Netherlands attend schools that are privately run and taxpayer funded.”

The only need they have is for knowledge. Progressives think that education is a one-way street. The kids have some responsibility to learn what is being taught, too. Education is a two-way street.

Betsy DeVos declared, “”For the United States, lasting and positive changes to education cannot and should not be mandated by the federal government.””

Changes need not be made at all, except maybe to go back to the way education was in the 1950-1970s. The average college graduate today knows about as much as the average high school graduate of the 1950s knew. How is this progress? A bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma.

Betsy DeVos stated, “The Dutch approach empowers educators and parents by encouraging local autonomy in the classroom. This autonomy creates a wealth of options from which families can choose. Different approaches to student instruction are crucial for educational freedom to be meaningful.”

Educational freedom? Education should be a local thing and not even a state thing and most assuredly not a federal thing. Teaching to the test is not educational freedom. It dictates what gets taught but this is not freedom! We should test what gets taught at the schoolroom level and not some state, national, or international test.

Betsy DeVos said, “I think of my visit to Imelda Primary School in Rotterdam. This Catholic school’s faith-based education focuses on respect and service to community. It also infuses the arts into all aspects of instruction, helping students understand abstract concepts and think critically.”

Abstract thought and critical thinking in Elementary School is putting the cart before the horse. It is silly and it is a waste of time. Without a knowledge base and understanding to apply it to and conclusions would likely be bogus. Why are people trying to force kids to grow up fast? Why are treating them like adults? They are children!!!!! They are not short adults.

Service to the community is also NOT what schools should promote. Religions maybe yes but schools no. This is why we separated church from state. Any time not spent learning is wasted time.

Betsy DeVos said, “In England, greater autonomy at the school level has been encouraged with the creation of “academies,” similar to charter schools in the United States, and “free schools,” both of which are granted significantly more flexibility for educators. Under Prime Minister David Cameron, the number of academies greatly increased, and free schools were created to serve as incubators of innovation and improve student achievement. Today, more than 70 percent of secondary schools in England have adopted the academy or free school model.”

I have already said that the traditional method was deemed better than progressive methods, according to the Guardian Newspaper, in London, England.

Betsy DeVos said, “One school that stood out was the Grey Coat Hospital School in London, which reorganized as an academy in 2012. A girls-school run by the Church of England, GCHS reorganized as an academy in 2012, which allows the school greater autonomy to meet the needs and interests of its students. Students develop their own ideas for long-term projects and are encouraged to be independent through open-ended assignments and practical workshops, preparing them for the next stage of their education journey.”

This is precisely what should not happen. Students should not have any say in curriculum or how it is taught! Again, professional teachers should have the say-so.

Betsy DeVos posited, “Switzerland is known for its robust apprenticeship program, with more than two-thirds of high school students engaged in one of the roughly 300 government-recognized apprenticeships. We saw the efficacy of this approach at Asea Brown Boveri’s plant in Zurich. ABB is one of many companies that partner with the country’s education system to offer students experience in high-earning fields like machinery and electronics. Students are exposed to many rewarding career paths, but they also have the choice to pursue an education at a traditional university. It’s not an “either/or” decision—as the Swiss say, “there are no dead ends in Switzerland’s education system.””

Switzerland is not the only European country that has apprenticeships as a track through so-called high school. Some European countries have IB as well but only about 25% of their students go through this there. This is another socialist idea that does not work and has not caught on.

Rewarding career paths? Really? How do you know? How do you know what trades will be needed? For example: I hope that they need as many carpenters as they produce. This just might tend to lower wages for all carpenters due to an oversupply of them. Because they produce so many tradespeople wages will be reduced even if they are short of carpenters. They have more than they would otherwise have!!

You say that there are nearly 300 apprenticeships and all of them create or find good paying jobs? I seriously doubt this!!!! You create an artificial supply of anything it tends to drive costs down. Meaning it drives down wages.

Switzerland is not the only European country to have this apprenticeship track through high school. Finland does too and so do others. But of course it is not truly high school, is it?

Betsy DeVos said, “Switzerland, the Netherlands and the U.K. are proud of their education systems, but they don’t rest on their laurels—they continually look to improve. The data demonstrates the effectiveness of their approaches. In science and math, students in Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom outperformed U.S. students on the most recent Program for International Student Assessment. The United States ranked 23rd in reading, 25th in science, and 40th in math. If we finished 40th in the Olympics there’d be a national outcry!”

Why are we even taking the PISA? There are 72 countries that take the PISA. We are in the top 1/3 in Reading and Science and the middle 1/3 in Math. Most that do well are small homogeneous nations, like Finland. Even Finland is starting to fall in the rankings due to non-Finnish speakers in their country. We have many non-English speakers in this country.

The PISA test has only been around since 1997. We survived without it for decades. Again, I ask why are we taking it? Just because it is there does not mean we have to use it.

In the Olympics only the best compete unlike where everyone may end up taking the PISA and without training.

Continue Process Improvement (CPI) proved to be bogus in the 1980s as a business model. Yet you want it in education. Regardless, school is NOT a business!! This is what I would expect from someone with a BA in Business Economics, in 1979. You were probably taught that CPI was good and desirable. It is a failed business model.

Betsy DeVos submitted, “Families need more freedom to choose their child’s education and educators must be empowered to innovate, or we will continue to lag behind the rest of the world. In the countries I visited, “private” and “public” schools alike are each valued and recognized for educating students in meaningful ways, thus contributing to the public good. Families are afforded the respect to choose which school will best meet their child’s educational needs. Students are exposed to many paths and given the tools to pursue their interests.”

Families do not need more freedom to choose their child’s education. Educators do not need to be innovative. They need to go back to tried and true methods. We need to stop treating our kids and teachers as guinea pigs for every new idea that comes along!

Betsy DeVos put forth, “Now, simply copying European approaches will not be sufficient—American communities have their own unique challenges and needs. But the Netherlands and the United Kingdom show that high student achievement is possible with robust parental choice and flexibility for educators. Switzerland shows the benefit of giving students a wide variety of career options through apprenticeships. Most importantly, these countries show that a commitment to freedom in education can produce student success.”

I notice that you did not say Finland. They do not use computers. They do not start teaching their kids until they are 7 years old. I do not think that they have charter schools either. I do not know for sure though.

Actually apprenticeships allow the teachers not to teach. It kind of defeats the purpose of what high school is all about. It and Junior High are there to determine what kind of a scholar, if any, the kids are. Apprenticeships can and should wait until adulthood – after high school, after they’ve already determined that they are not scholars.

Betsy DeVos declared, “For the United States, lasting and positive changes to education cannot and should not be mandated by the federal government. We’ve tried that before—such as with No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and School Improvement Grants—with little to no success. And when the U.S. Department of Education was founded, it was charged to “prohibit federal control of education.” That’s a charge I take seriously.”

I could not agree more. So, why do we have a US Department of Education and any US laws concerning education? All of this is unconstitutional.

The Federal Government’s push for CCSS kind of goes contrary to the notion that they should not control education. If you took that charge seriously you’d shut down the US Department of Education altogether and have any and all US laws concerning education declared unconstitutional.

Betsy DeVos assumed, “Instead, forward-thinking states and school districts should take note of the effective approaches found abroad, and they should consider how they can extend educational freedom to their own constituents.”

We should not be trying to copy any other country. Our problems and situation are unique. Even Finland’s ranking has fallen on the PISA test because of non-Finnish speaking people in Finland.

I love it. You say forward thinking as if the other states are in the Dark Ages or something, if they do not implement what you say.

Betsy DeVos held, “States and school districts should empower families with more options to find the best fit for their children—whether through open enrollment, charter schools, tax credit scholarships, vouchers, portable student funding, or other mechanisms.”

Why? The system had basically worked until progressives like you started mandating all of these changes.

Betsy DeVos uttered, “States and school districts can empower educators with greater flexibility to meet the needs of the students they serve. That means reducing the paperwork burden on classroom teachers and letting them do what they do best: teach. It means abandoning a one-size-fits-all approach to instruction. And it means compensating great teachers well.”

School is not a restaurant. Schools do not serve kids. Schools exist to pass on knowledge so that the next generation does not have to reinvent the wheel and so that we can govern ourselves. Education like everything else is competitive. Kids should get used to that notion. They are going to be in for a shock when they enter adulthood, if they do not get used to it.

Betsy DeVos concluded by saying, “Finally, and perhaps most critically, we must ask ourselves who should have the greater say in education: students and their families, or the nation’s most entrenched status quo? The countries I visited have answered that question on the side of students. Americans should demand the same.”

Sure as heck students and their families should not have control. Members of the teaching profession should have the say-so. It is after all their profession. In no other profession that I am aware of does the laity tell the professionals how to do their jobs. Then the reformers wonder why the teachers fight them!

One size fits all is best when one realizes that education, along with the rest of life, is competitive. People are adaptable and the student should be able to adapt to the teacher’s teaching style. This is far more likely to succeed than the teacher having no style and just mentors the students, or bends over backwards to accommodate every child. As adults they will have to adapt to their new jobs and new bosses.



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