The money myth
This is the most widely held myth about education in America--and the one most directly at odds with the available evidence. Few people are aware that our education spending per pupil has been growing steadily for 50 years. At the end of World War II, public schools in the United States spent a total of $1,214 per student in inflation-adjusted 2002 dollars. By the middle of the 1950s that figure had roughly doubled to $2,345. By 1972 it had almost doubled again, reaching $4,479. And since then, it has doubled a third time, climbing to $8,745 in 2002.
This big-picture evidence is strongly confirmed by academic research. Though you'd never know it from the tenor of most education debates, the vast majority of studies have found no sustained positive relationship between spending and classroom results. Economist Eric Hanushek of Stanford University examined every solid study on spending and outcomes--a total of 163 research papers--and concluded that extra resources are more likely to be squandered than to have a productive effect.
The teacher pay myth
One reason for the prominence of the underpaid-teacher belief is that people often fail to account for the relatively low number of hours that teachers work. It seems obvious, but it is easily forgotten: teachers work only about nine months per year. During the summer they can either work at other jobs or use the time off however else they wish. Either way, it's as much a form of compensation as a paycheck--as anyone who has ever had to count vacation days knows. If a teacher makes $45,000 for nine months of work while a nurse makes $45,000 for 12 months of work, clearly the teacher is much better paid. Nurses would certainly consider it to be a generous raise if they were offered three months' vacation each year at the same annual salary.
The most recent data available indicate that teachers average 7.3 working hours per day, and that they work 180 days per year, adding up to 1,314 hours per year. Americans in normal 9-to-5 professions who take two weeks of vacation and another ten paid holidays per year put in 1,928 working hours. Doing the math, this means the average teacher gets paid a base salary equivalent to a fulltime salary of $65,440. That's the national average for all teachers--more experienced instructors, and those working in better-paying school districts, make tens of thousands of dollars more, sometimes approaching the equivalent of six-figure salaries.
Data from the U.S. Department of Labor show that in 2002, elementary school teachers averaged $30.75 per hour and high school teachers made $31.01. That is about the same as other professionals like architects, economists, biologists, civil engineers, chemists, physicists and astronomers, and computer systems analysts and scientists. Even demanding, education-intensive professions like electrical and electronic engineering, dentistry, and nuclear engineering didn't make much more than teachers per hour worked. And the earnings of teachers are much higher than those of registered nurses, police officers, editors and reporters, firefighters, and social workers.
The myth of insurmountable problems
This argument that schools are helpless in the face of social problems is not supported by hard evidence. It is a myth. The truth is that certain schools do a strikingly better job than others at overcoming challenges in the culture.
Inherent in the claim that schools are helpless to educate disadvantaged students is the idea that any attempt to improve educational outcomes through reforms to the system would prove futile. However, the evidence suggests that reforms that focus on the incentives of public schools lead to educational gains.
In a study I performed of a voucher program in Florida, I found that when chronically failing public schools faced competition from vouchers, they made very impressive gains compared to the performance of all other schools. Similarly low-performing schools whose students were not eligible for the vouchers did not make similar gains. Many other researchers have found that school choice programs increase the performance of public schools. In fact, despite the frequent claims of teachers unions, I am not aware of a single study that has found that a school choice program harmed the academic performance of a public school system.
The class size myth
Unlike other myths, this one isn't totally baseless. Research suggests there may be some advantages to smaller classes--though if so, the benefits are modest and come at a very high price tag. And whether this research is actually correct is a matter of debate. So the strong claims for class size reduction made by political activists are not at all justified.
There is reason to be suspicious because of an anomaly in the research findings: If smaller classes really do improve student performance, we would generally expect to see these benefits accrue over time. But instead, the improvement in STAR test scores was a one-time event. This is unusual and unexpected. Considering that the project's supposed benefits were moderate to begin with, this raises serious doubts about whether the STAR results should lead to policy prescriptions--particularly since evidence on large-scale class size reduction is much less encouraging.
In California, the state appropriated $1 billion in 1996 to reduce elementary school class sizes. When California's test scores rose, advocates of smaller classes held up their program as a model. The reality, however, wasn't so clear. A RAND Corporation study concluded that California students who attended larger elementary school classes improved at about the same rate as students in smaller classes. Though California's overall educational performance went up, it did not seem to be due to smaller classes. (The state had also undertaken a number of other major education reforms at the same time it was reducing class sizes.)
And the financial costs of reducing class sizes on that scale would be exceptionally high--$2,306 per pupil according to calculations by Caroline Hoxby of Harvard University. There is only a finite amount of money available, so every dollar spent on class size reduction is a dollar that will not be available for salary increases, books, equipment, or the implementation of other reform policies. This will be true no matter how much money a school system has. Given that other reform strategies are more promising and less costly, the modest benefits of class size reduction simply can't justify the very large sacrifices that would have to be made.
The certification myth
In a review conducted for the Abell Foundation, researchers found that teachers holding a master's in education did not produce higher student performance, and among new teachers, traditional certification made no difference in student performance. After examining every available study on the impact of teaching credentials on job performance--171 in total--Eric Hanushek found that only nine uncovered any significant positive relationship between credentials and student performance, five found a significant negative relationship between the two, and 157 showed no connection. Looking at Teach For America--a program that lets recent college graduates become teachers without obtaining traditional education credentials--three scholars at Mathematica Policy Research found that students taught by these non-credentialed instructors made significant gains in math in one year, and kept pace in reading. Current policy--which generally centers on teachers having education certificates--therefore appears to be seriously misguided.
Members of the education establishment fiercely resist giving up the old linkage of pay to paper accomplishments. When Michigan adopted new standards emphasizing a teacher's proven academic ability (as measured in skills tests) rather than their credentials or years of experience, the Detroit News profiled angry teachers. "It's a slap in my face that I have to go back and take a test," said one teacher with a master's degree and 30 years of experience.
Until we stop hiring and financially rewarding teachers according to qualifications that are irrelevant to their performance, we can never expect improved quality in classroom instruction.
The rich-school myth
Some point out that private schools don't always provide all the services that public schools do: transportation, special ed classes, lunch, counseling. But in an analysis comparing public-school and Catholic-school costs in New York, D.C., Dayton, and San Antonio, researchers found that excluding all of these services plus administration costs from the public-school ledger still left public schools with significantly more resources than Catholic schools. Besides, if public schools provide additional services, then those services should contribute to their students' educational outcomes. All spending is ultimately relevant to the question of a school's cost-effectiveness.
Just as lack of money cannot be blamed for poor outcomes in public schools, neither can differences in selectivity be held responsible. Surprising as it may be, most private schools are not very selective. A study of the nation's Catholic schools concluded that the typical institution accepted 88 percent of the students who applied. Other research in D.C., Dayton, and New York private schools found that only 1 percent of parents reported their children were denied admission because of a failed admissions test. Moreover, the academic and demographic backgrounds of students who use vouchers to attend private school across the country are very similar to those who don't.
In any case, numerous studies have compared what happens when students with identical backgrounds attend private versus public schools. And consistently, in study after study, the matched peers who remain in public schools do less well than children who shift to private schools. Higher student achievement is clearly attributable to some difference in the way private schools instruct--and not to more money, or simple exclusion of difficult students.
The myth of ineffective school vouchers
There have been eight random-assignment studies of school voucher programs, and in seven of them, the benefits for voucher recipients were statistically significant. In Milwaukee, for example, a study I conducted with two researchers from Harvard found that students awarded vouchers to attend private schools outperformed a matched control group of students in Milwaukee public schools. After four years, the voucher students had reading scores six percentile points above the control group, and standardized math results 11 percentile points higher. All of the students in this study (which is mirrored by other research) were low-income and Hispanic or African American.
In a study of a different program based in Charlotte, North Carolina, I found that recipients of privately funded vouchers outperformed peers who did not receive a voucher by six percentile points after one year. All of the students studied were from low-income households. In New York City, a privately funded school choice program has been the subject of many careful studies. One found that African-American voucher recipients outperformed the control group by 9 percentile points after three years in the program. Another analysis found a difference of 5 percentile points in math. A similar program in Washington, D.C. resulted in African-American students outperforming peers without vouchers by 9 percentile points after two years.
Every one of the voucher programs studied resulted in enthusiastic support from parents as well. And all this was achieved in private schools that expend a mere fraction of the amount spent per student in public schools. The most generously funded of the five voucher programs studied, the Milwaukee program, provides students with only 60 percent of the $10,112 spent per pupil in that city's public schools. The privately funded voucher programs spend less than half what public schools spend per pupil. Better performances, happier parents, for about half the cost: if similar results were produced for a method of fighting cancer, academics and reporters would be elated.
More and more patients from all the European Union countries are visiting Poland, especially from Great Britain, Germany and Denmark, in order to take advantage of Poland's cheaper medical services.
Most patients from the EU come to Poland for dental work or for plastic surgery. Polish doctors are highly respected by the international community and the prices of the highest quality medical treatments are considerably lower than in other EU countries.
There are more and more medical clinics specializing in foreign patient service, cooperating with hotels and holiday centers, even with travel agencies looking for clients for them.
According to the Tourism Institute's estimates, there were nearly 12 million tourists to Poland in the first three quarters of 2006. The estimated revenues for Poland from these visits amounded [sic] to $6.5 bln.
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said Monday he would never allow a gay parade to take place in Moscow despite pressure from the West, Russia’s RIA-Novosti news agency reports.
“Last year, Moscow came under unprecedented pressure to sanction the gay parade, which can be described in no other way than as Satanic,” Luzhkov said at the 15th Christmas educational readings in the Kremlin Palace.
“We did not let the parade take place then, and we are not going to allow it in the future,” said Luzhkov who has been in office since 1992.
The conservative 70-year-old mayor of the Russian capital also banned Portuguese bullfights in Moscow in 2001 for their violence and did not let the St. Petersburg-based rock group Leningrad perform in the city because of their explicit lyrics.
Luzhkov thanked the attending head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II, for his support at a time when, he said, the West is exerting considerable pressure on Moscow authorities and trying to promote gay relationships under the cover of creativity and freedom of expression.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Polish Communism. Were it not for the fact that the official news agency that employed him wanted stories from Third World countries that the Soviet Union was trying to drag into its orbit, he might never have found the freedom to chronicle the horrible abuses of power. And were it not for the stringent budget his employers forced him to operate under, he might never have put into practice his own dictum: "Without trying to enter into these other ways of looking and perceiving and describing, we won't understand anything of this world.''
[...] African-Americans, by the 12th grade, "are typically four years behind white and Asian students," with Hispanics "doing only a tad better than black students." Translated, this means that black and Hispanic students are finishing high school, on average, "with a junior high education."
A common myth is that schools across the country with lots of low-income students are less-well-funded than schools with fewer low-income students. The opposite, actually, is more routinely the case. Minnesota, in fact, recently ranked fifth best in the nation in terms of "extra poverty-based funding per student living below the poverty line." This (benevolent) gap was $3,075.
But given that African-Americans in Minneapolis are doing unusually poorly academically, how do these conflicting findings compute?
To complicate matters even more, consider Ascension School, a K-8 Catholic school in north Minneapolis. Students are overwhelmingly minority; they're overwhelmingly non-Catholic; and in 2005, 90 percent of eighth-graders there passed Minnesota's Basic Skills test in math and 95 percent passed Minnesota's Basic Skills test in reading.
In contrast, eighth-graders in Minneapolis public schools, in 2003, passed at these rates in math: 82 percent for whites; 57 percent for Asian/ Pacific Islanders; 41 percent for Hispanics; 40 percent for American Indians; and 28 percent for blacks. Please note, though you probably already have, that the 82 percent passing rate for whites in Minneapolis public schools was substantially below Ascension's 90 percent for all its kids. MPS scores were significantly better in reading than they were in math; but again, they were significantly below Ascension's reading scores.
What are tuition rates (for non-parishioners) in inner-city Catholic schools in the state? According to the Minnesota Catholic Conference, they average under $3,200 for elementary schools and under $8,000 for high schools. By contrast, as long ago as 2003 -- in the wake of a recession -- federal, state, and local revenues in Minneapolis Public Schools totaled $13,658 per "pupil unit."
Now consider findings like these on voucher programs across the nation, as summarized by William G. Howell and Paul E. Peterson, both of Harvard:
"Voucher interventions that serve African American students seem particularly promising. ... [A]ttending a private school, compared with attending a public school, boosts African American students' test scores, educational attainment, likelihood of pursuing an advanced degree, and future earnings. Even studies that find little comparable benefits for whites typically find that private schools help African Americans."
This leads the two political scientists to conclude:
"The importance of such findings for the education of African American students has been underappreciated. ... With these new data from randomized field studies confirming prior observational studies, the positive impact of private schools on African American students' educational performance can no longer be dismissed as the product of some mysterious selection effect."
For the life of me, I can't understand how any educator, politician, editorial writer, or anyone else can read all of this and not believe vouchers are worth at least a try.
Mitch Pearlstein is founder and president of Center of the American Experiment. The findings above are from his forthcoming study, "Achievement Gaps and Vouchers: How Achievement Gaps are Bigger in Minnesota than Virtually Anyplace Else, and Why Vouchers are Essential to Reducing Them."
The raids netted 338 illegal immigrants who were arrested at their homes and apartments and 423 who were identified in area jails since Jan. 17. Those already jailed will be transferred to federal custody when they finish serving their state sentences, said Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The sweep netted illegal immigrants from 14 countries in all, including Mexico, Honduras, Ukraine, India, Japan, Poland and Trinidad.
Of the 761 people arrested, more than 450 have already been deported, Kice said.
I was born in Poland, I lived a half of my life in Poland and I applaud deportation of illegal immigrants from Poland. Somehow I doubt I will change any anti-American mind. After all, they are used to sacrifice their own (poor, blacks, etc.) to attain their goals so by simple projection they will think I do the same.
I also think that somewhat Orwellian is repeating by many on the left that Bush's tax-cuts caused budget deficit at the same time as they also acknowledge that tax receipts (both federal and state) are at their highest. They simply say those tax returns are unexpected and the deficit that is already low would have been even lower had it not been for those tax-cuts. I think it's Orwellian to still subscribe to Keynesian economics after Milton Friedman for example said this just before he died:
Q: Do tax cuts pay for themselves?Interestingly, in the same exchange he said this:
Friedman: Occasionally. But revenue loss is almost always less than static prediction.
Q: What is the biggest risk to the world economy: America's deficits? Energy insecurity? Environment? Terrorism? None of the above?
Friedman: Islamofascism, with terrorism as its weapon.
[...]Hispanic immigrant community has not always placed as high a value on education as, for instance, Asians have. This is not an insult and does not sound like one when you actually read his book. As Mr. Badillo explains, the Hispanic cultural experience was formed in part by centuries of Spanish colonialism and the feudalism it spawned in Latin America, followed by decades of dictatorships and strongmen. This cruel legacy has imbued many people with a subconscious notion that stations in life don't change, and a sense that help can only come through the luck of having a benevolent leader.Maybe uncle Herman would persuade him to just shut the hell up and follow the protocol. Well, at least for now, he's talking and it's not pretty.
If Mr. Badillo is generating controversy by suggesting that America's Hispanics are being sidetracked in the name of multiculturalism, or hobbled by bilingual education, he welcomes the attention. "That was the reason" to write the book, he says. "To provoke a recognition that this issue cannot be hidden any longer and has to come to the forefront of a national discussion. Because we can no longer allow this to fester from generation to generation."Good for you, uncle Herman. Maybe somebody will listen. No, not Liberals. They will never take the blinders off. Maybe some Hispanics will follow your example and just break the chains of their defeatist culture.
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