Tags: budget | education | spending

Bloated Education Spending Does Little for Learning

By Friday, 29 January 2016 01:33 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The Washington Post ran a story this week that asked: “Does this 81-year-old hold the key to teaching kids how to understand math?”

Treating her as if she was some valuable relic washed ashore from Atlantis, the reporter explains Mary Johnson has been “teaching math in the District [since] the 1960s as if little time has passed.”

Which is a good thing; because Johnson spends her retirement years trying to undo the mathematical illiteracy imposed on D.C. children by educrats.

She does it by cheerfully violating all the modern rules of “pedagogy” promulgated by the witch doctors of education.

“Johnson’s methods rely on drilling in the basic concepts of math — or, as she puts it, “the laws of math” — and ensuring that students understand why each step of solving a problem is necessary.” This concept is so obvious only an educator could fail to grasp how crucial it is.

For the past four decades education malpractice has called this technique “drill and kill” supposedly because learning how to do something correctly extinguishes creativity. It’s a crock. One only has to observe tattoos at the mall to realize most people aren’t creative at all. Understanding the basic principles underlying math only serves to make one competent.

The tragic irony of education is the only area on campus where there’s real accountability is the locker room. Football teams don’t practice touchdown dances to unleash their running back’s creativity. They constantly practice the plays, because that creates opportunities for louche end zone festivities.

If football coaches don’t win they’re fired. If teachers don’t teach we’re told the solution is more spending on education. That’s like saying the Cleveland Browns would be a better football team if the owner were richer.

Malcolm Gladwell, normally a darling of the left, writes it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to become Tiger Woods or Werner Heisenberg. That’s anathema in university schools of education.

Those “experts” expect Mozart without the scales, Rembrandt without the sketches and Salk without the experiments.

Teachers are forbidden to be “sage on the stage” their role is to be a “guide on the side.” The same children who can’t agree on the rules in a recess football game are supposed to collaborate in the classroom and come up with the Pythagorean theorem, while the “facilitator” cheers from the sideline and works on logistics for the next pay raise protest.

Johnson’s methods reject rhyming buzzwords. She teaches fundamentals, the hot new Core Curriculum math teaches “critical thinking.”

In an interview with Fox News, Glyn Wright explained: “With the new math standard in the Common Core, there are no longer absolute truths. So 3 times 4 can now equal 11 so long as a student can effectively explain how they reached that answer.”

That’s spin doctor math, only useful if your child wants to grow up to be a lobbyist.
If I were an astronaut, I’d prefer NASA accurately calculate a launch trajectory to hit the moon, rather than explain that since the moon and Mars are both planets, landing on either is equally valid.

Johnson doesn’t teach little Belgium whose parents want a head start toward Harvard. She works with discards from the district. Johnson meets individually with each student and administers a simple test that diagnoses where the child fails to understand. Then she teaches those specific areas.

Her philosophy is simple: “I believe all students can learn math if they understand the laws. If a student masters a problem on my test, I don’t care what test they take, they master it.”

That practical outlook is not going to win her any friends in academia. The Pedagogy Pashas spend their days in the ceaseless pursuit of the new and trendy at the expense of the tried and tested.

Our education complex is fueled by tax dollars and built on lies. There is no correlation between education spending and learning. Even the statistics used to squeeze more money from taxpayers are deceptive.

New York spends the most per pupil at $19,818 per year. But that extraordinary figure only includes wages and benefits. It ignores fixed costs and infrastructure. It’s like basing the price of a Ford on the salaries of the salesmen and mechanics while ignoring what it costs to run the plant.

More realistic estimates put pupil spending at almost double the quoted figures. Sending all the kids to college might be cheaper.

Even with light figures, taxpayers don’t get their money’s worth. New York finishes 24th in average ACT and SAT scores. Utah spends the least at $6,555 and ranks 13th. The district is third at $17,953 and ranks dead last in achievement.

Until we have more people like Mary Johnson in the classroom, taxpayers are just going to continue pouring good money after fads.

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.

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If teachers don’t teach we’re told the solution is more spending on education.
budget, education, spending
Friday, 29 January 2016 01:33 PM
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