Saturday, January 11, 2014

Part 3 of 4: What Does the PISA Report Tell Us About U.S. Education?

I have finally got caught up(ish) with the grading I neglected over break so I'm finally able to take some time to debunking another myth.

Myth #3: The US spends the most on education

The myth, as it reads now, is somewhat correct. We are not the top performer but we are near the top. However, and this is a BIG however, in that same article, it points out that we are the ONLY developed country, and only one of five countries, that have CUT education spending since 2008. The chart below breaks it down for you by state.

Found here

14 states upped their spending on education. Fourteen out of fifty. That is 28% of the states.

This cut in education is HUGE! We have stopped investing in our child's future to save some money. If you know your modern history, you know that 2008 is when the economy started to take a downturn. Our political leaders decided that cutting education funding, which is below 10% of the budget, was the best idea to save money. They are also the same ones that complain about how bad the education system.

Here, have a mirror so you can see part of the problem.

So are we spending more than most countries? Yes.

But, we are no longer finding it worth while to invest in our future. I honestly think this is what the politicians say to our school boards:

 "Make classes smaller, get better teachers, and provide more up to date resources for our students. That will cost $100k but I'll give you $50k. What? You can't get it done? You're horrible at what you do! We need to totally revamp education! You're the source of the problem!"

You want proof they do that? I have four words for you:

No Child Left Behind

The basic idea was that if you performed well you got money. If you didn't perform well, we'll take it away from you and shut it down. Anyone involved in education would tell you this doesn't work by sheer logic. The schools that under perform have a low income level. That means less local taxes are going into the school which means they need more help from the federal government. I know teachers at these schools who are put on a strict copy count due to budge tightening since they lost funding under NCLB.

Luckily, it was realized how dumb this program was so they offered "waivers" but the school of thought still exists. I'll give you four more words to show that:

Race to the Top

Granted, RTTT isn't as bad as NCLB. They don't take away money if you perform badly, they just won't give you extra money. The extra money is only reserved for those schools that increase their scores. If you're a struggling school, you have to increase your scores first and then you'll get the money.

I mean that makes total sense.

The point of this is to show you that I'm not making it up when I say that politicians want million dollar results but don't want to invest the million dollars needed to get those results. The article I linked above said it best:

"When people talk about other countries out-educating the United States, it needs to be remembered that those other nations are out-investing us in education as well," said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a labor union.

So, does the US spend a lot of money on education? Yes

But does the US invest the money needed in education? No

And that is where the real tragedy is.

You can't be a super star at something if you don't put in the required skills needed. In this case, you can't have a top performing education program if you don't invest in it.

Myth #4: US student performance is dropping

This is a quick an easy one. I'm only going to use the PISA results since that is what causes people to complain about all of this.

Are we below the average? Yes

Have we improved since 2003? Yes

Found here
The United States falls in that top left whit area close to the center which means that since 2003, we are still below the average but we have improved.

The report that chart is linked to also shows that not only are we at the middle of the pack over all, we are at the middle of the pack in all economic groups. There has either been an improvement or a minimal change since 2003 in all socioeconomic levels.

Our students are not getting "dumber," our policy makers are. Every test proves that we are staying about the same or slightly improving. 

Can we improve more? Yes

But are we declining? No. Not at all.

No comments:

Post a Comment