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View Diary: Ed Reform: Seductive Arguments and Attractive Solutions (74 comments)

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  •  Shortage of science-literate average citizens (10+ / 0-)

    Derek Lowe (the chemist quoted by Discover, not the baseball player) is right. There is no shortage of working scientists.

    What there is a terrible shortage of, is ordinary, typical citizens - typical voters  - who understand the basics of science. This makes it possible to sell diverse forms of snake oil to the public, such as climate denialism, anti-vaccinationism, abstinence-only sex ed, etc.

    And our education system is largely to blame for this, but it isn't the teachers' fault. Science literacy is based on critical, independent thinking, and that is a trait that many in power want suppressed, not encouraged.

    If you doubt me, pick up a Texas-approved "science" textbook.

    •  The "Middle Third" is horribly neglected (7+ / 0-)

      In policy, programs, funding, technique and emphasis, as well as reward, the Middle Third of students receives the least amount of attention in our current system.

      We have succeeded in creating a class of students whose parents are college educated, affluent and have the skill and time to find enrichment, experiences and outside skills via their family culture and connections. Good on us.

      We have succeeded in keeping thousands of students with learning disabilities, home emotional issues, stress issues, psychological needs, and counseling via the Individual Education Plan (IEP) which used to be called Special Ed. Federally and State funding pours into this sector, and we keep many in school and on track for graduation.

      What we HAVE NOT DONE is pay attention to the broad middle of students who are from working class backgrounds, have parents who are experiencing economic decline and hardship, new mobility issues, and no experience in navigating "sweet spots" and as teachers, we have not developed ways of speaking and teaching to them. We are so focused on the top third and the bottom third, academically, that the "regular" classes are overwhelmed with need, stress and lack of academic accomplishment.

      Does this sound familiar? It parallels the American Economy. This is NOT an educational problem, it is an economic problem, and until we see it as such, we will continue to neglect those people we need to support public education, and who we need to support WITH public education.

       Where are the Democrats? Pandering to the top and the bottom, and leaving the rest to fend for themselves. And they are not fending very well.

      Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

      by OregonOak on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:59:59 AM PDT

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      •  I saw another stem grad bartending the other night (6+ / 0-)

        The guys had a double degree in electrical engineering and physics.
        In discussing this with a physics professor, she suggested that many grad got by with mediocre grades and perhaps don't deserve employment in their chosen field of study.
        Well, we are talking about "kids" in their early to mid-twenties that have done nothing but study all their lives even if they are not the top of their classes.  These are the kids that could be working for industries and government while the top students could stay in academics.   Now, we have top academic students working the few industry jobs and mostly bored with no employment for the smart but, not the top in academics.
        Requirements for academic achievement far are different from a person that can figure out how to solve a real world problem in engineering. Top grades are a dim indicator of what a person is really capable of doing.
        Another thing, devotion and setting time priorities change as a person matures.  So, throwing people away early in life before they have a chance to mature is unconscionable.

        •  Of course if all the kids got top grades (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rodentrancher, pacplate, qofdisks

          then it would mean the classes were too easy. It couldn't be that the classes were well taught and the kids motivated and capable.

          My own feeling is that the STEM kids who fall out of STEM fields are mostly just unlucky - the wrong degree at the wrong time, they needed health insurance and couldn't wait for the right job, maybe they live in the wrong city and/or want to be near a spouse or family. There's huge friction in STEM employment - it usually takes months to fill jobs and it usually takes months to get a job - and a lot of STEM these days ends up being temporary/contract type work.

          It's tempting to say they must be the "lesser grades" etc because then your physics professor friend can feel that she's in no danger, and that she's doing right by all of her graduate students, who absolutely won't be doing 3rd postdocs or struggling for work ever... unlike a substantial percentage of other people's physics Ph.D. students.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 09:43:37 AM PDT

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          •  Classes too easy? Don't think so... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            qofdisks

            The real reason those STEM grads not getting jobs is this: Why pay for American know how and productivity when corporations who benefit from American tax payer supported infrastructure and security can outsource those jobs on the cheap.

            Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

            by semioticjim on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 02:11:32 PM PDT

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