God's Politics

God's Politics


Gabriel Salguero: Where Do We Go From Here?

posted by gp_intern

As announced on CNN last week, we’re hosting a forum of the leading Democratic presidential candidates at our Pentecost 2007 event. We invited several of our bloggers to discuss their questions for the candidates, but we’ve also compiled the best questions submitted by our readers’, and now you can vote on the one we’ll ask on live television: + Click here to vote

The famous query of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Where do we go from here? Chaos or community?” is still a very pertinent question for today. In light of the noticeable disagreement around policies that seek to address economic, educational, and immigration reform, my queries to the presidential candidates would focus on that directional and strategic question, “Where do we go from here?” These queries underline and imply an initial stock-taking of where the candidates see the nation now and where do they see the necessary future trajectory we need to take as a nation. Below is a list of questions I submit for their examination:

Savage Inequalities

Some years ago, Jonathon Kozol wrote Savage Inequalities highlighting the severe disparities in educational spending in school districts around the country. What educational reform do you propose as necessary to close the disparities between economically stable public schools districts and those with serious economic challenges? What role, if any, do you see Affirmative Action playing in the area of education?

The rising cost of healthcare in the United States manifests a gap between the haves and the have-nots. What would you do as president to ameliorate the burden of healthcare for the working poor and the unemployed?

It is no secret that many undocumented immigrants are migrating to the United States, and parts of Europe because of poverty (not to mention war, genocide, and disease). What foreign and domestic policies would you advocate to address the glaring and growing economic and digital divide between many countries in the Global North and the Global South? How would these policies respond to the multitudes of men, women and children in Latin America, Africa, and Asia who are struggling for survival and coming into the U.S. undocumented?

Life and Quality of Life

Many people of faith, including me, underline the importance of honoring life and ensuring, as far as possible, a decent quality of life how do you respond to their concerns on these issues of life…

· Given the realities and complexities of economics, race, and gender in our country, should capital punishment still be a part of U.S. societies dealing with the most heinous of crimes?

· What foreign policy should the U.S. pursue in the cases of genocide as seen in Rwanda and Burundi?

· How would you address the concerns of many around the large number of abortions in the U.S.?

· What policies should be enacted to ensure healthcare, quality education, and housing of many children born to poor single parents?

· How can we ensure a better quality of life for the people working in the United States who can not earn enough for subsistence?

Civil Discourse

In the days following 9/11, the tone of national discourse was an inspirational note of civility and mutual respect. It appears that once again the hostility in discourse and divisiveness has returned, particularly around comprehensive immigration reform, same-sex unions, and the war in Iraq (among other issues) in many parts of the country. What model of discourse would your administration set that could serve as a healthy model for Republicans, Democrats, Independents, etc. all around the country? This is a critical query in light of the many examples of the demonization of “the other” that our children are hearing from all quarters of public life.

I pray that these questions (certainly there are many more of equal importance) would stimulate a necessary and healthy dialogue for people of faith, secularists, and all people of good-will around the U.S. that helps us underline what we really hold true and dear and how we treat each other.


Rev. Gabriel Salguero is the pastor of the Lamb’s Church of the Nazarene in New York City, a Ph.D. candidate at Union Theological Seminary, and the director of the Hispanic Leadership Program at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is also a board member for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.



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kevin s.

posted May 25, 2007 at 6:40 pm


I live in a relatively poor district of Minneapolis. They are closing schools here because, as young couples move in, they are refusing to attend schools with such a pronounced history of corruption and failure.If each school got $100 million to improve, I still wouldn’t send my child there. An very expensive failure is no more appealing than a moderately expensive one. How about, instead of burdening itself with educating my child, the government simply gives me a tax break to find another path to get it done? Yeah, that’ll happen.



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Texzona

posted May 25, 2007 at 7:31 pm


I am excited about this interview/debate. I hope there will be recording so we can show it again closer to election time. I am not sure how many Americans are actually paying attention right now, and if the do we tend to have a short term memory.



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HASH(0x1178a3e4)

posted May 25, 2007 at 7:52 pm


Kevin S., you’re obviously better off than most of your neighbors living in the poor districts of Minneapolis considering a tax break would help you out. What do you propose for the single mom’s living in the same district as you that aren’t making enough money to pay taxes? I just wish more Christians would look outside their own household and see the needs of their neighbors. Sure, a tax break to send your kid to a private school would be beneficial to you, but then what are you going to do to make sure your neighbors kids have an opportunity to get a decent education?



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Payshun

posted May 25, 2007 at 8:00 pm


Great questions. There are some really intelligent and dedicated people at our universitites that have been working on education issues for years. I think we need to continue using our resources if we plan on rebuilding our schools. p



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 25, 2007 at 8:19 pm


How about, instead of burdening itself with educating my child, the government simply gives me a tax break to find another path to get it done? Yeah, that’ll happen. And I hope to God that it doesn’t. People don’t want to admit that the the reputation of any school is inversely proportional to its access — e. g., the very lure of a private education is that most people can’t get one. Limiting access to a solid education thus is a sport of sorts. Besides, kids who remain in “bad” schools as a rule have problems at home — if those problems were solved the schools would improve immensely. But no one talks about that issue.



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Mike Hayes

posted May 25, 2007 at 9:23 pm


I think the top priority the candidates for president should be asked about is whether US troops should be sent in to other countries. At least twice in my lifetime US presidents decided to prop up a government which would not or could not earn the loyalty of its own citizens, by sending in US troops. That is not among the questions, but that is the key issue that a president as commander in chief should be held accountable for, in my view.Other issues depend upon the US Congress as much as upon the president.A president can drag the entire country down if they act out of a belief that the might of the US military can succeed against civil unrest within a country like Vietnam or Iraq. Let’s ask the candidates for president how they view that presidential authority, which they will exercise without much opportunity for control by congress, based on what we are now seeing and have seen before. And when that decision is made, all the other issues slide to the back burner.



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kevin s.

posted May 25, 2007 at 10:03 pm


“Kevin S., you’re obviously better off than most of your neighbors living in the poor districts of Minneapolis considering a tax break would help you out.” Most anyone would be helped by a tax break. I doubt that I am surrounded by people who make no income whatsoever. “What do you propose for the single mom’s living in the same district as you that aren’t making enough money to pay taxes?” Voucher. “And I hope to God that it doesn’t. People don’t want to admit that the the reputation of any school is inversely proportional to its access ” Parents could care less about access. They are far more concerned about competence. The reputation of a school is loosely correlative to its level of access. It is entirely tied to its success. Same goes for charter schools, public schools, colleges, etc… “Limiting access to a solid education thus is a sport of sorts.” No it isn’t.”Besides, kids who remain in “bad” schools as a rule have problems at home — if those problems were solved the schools would improve immensely. But no one talks about that issue.” People talk endlessly about that issue. Teachers unions routinely scapegoat students and their families. If you improve the home lives of those kids, you might improve their performance, but you will not improve the school. If schools are dependent on great students to succeed, then something has to change beyond simply providing equal funding.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 25, 2007 at 11:28 pm


Parents could care less about access. They are far more concerned about competence. The reputation of a school is loosely correlative to its level of access. It is entirely tied to its success. With all due respect, that shows how little you really know. In my state and all across the country voucher programs get voted down consistently — and do you know why? Because parents with the kids in the better schools don’t want kids from lesser means in their schools. Your more honest ones will even tell you that. If you improve the home lives of those kids, you might improve their performance, but you will not improve the school. Oh, yes, you will, because of fewer distractions. That should be obvious. If schools are dependent on great students to succeed, then something has to change beyond simply providing equal funding. Now you’re catching on … :-)



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Sarasotakid

posted May 26, 2007 at 12:05 am


Public education has been the cornerstone of success and mobility in this country. There are certainly problems with public schools but the solution certainly isn’t to privatize them and make education like any other consumer commodity.



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kevin s.

posted May 26, 2007 at 12:15 am


“With all due respect, that shows how little you really know. In my state and all across the country voucher programs get voted down consistently — and do you know why?” Because teacher’s unions spend a bazillion dollars on misinformation campaigns? “Because parents with the kids in the better schools don’t want kids from lesser means in their schools. Your more honest ones will even tell you that.” Well, the more bigoted ones will tell you that. The private school I attended in Michigan actively promoted diversity, and I attended on a scholarship. I think you are looking at a small handful of elite schools, which (I will concede) are a peculiar animal, and generalizing across a wide range of educational options. “There are certainly problems with public schools but the solution certainly isn’t to privatize them and make education like any other consumer commodity.” They already are a consumer commodity, if obliquely. Where you live determines where you go to school unless school choice is in place. This has a polarizing effect that goes beyond who goes to which school. Entire communities are transformed by schools that succeed or fail. As it stands, only a handful of parents have real options as to where to send their kid to school. This creates an atmosphere in which there is no external pressure to avert failure. That has to change, and if increase commoditization does the trick, so be it.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 26, 2007 at 12:26 am


Because teacher’s unions spend a bazillion dollars on misinformation campaigns? False — I got some insight about 15 years ago from a story in the Wall Street Journal, no liberal rag. A woman in suburban San Francisco was irate that someone tried to come into her town and tell her the public schools in her area, which is why she moved there, were substandard. Once the public schools are rated less the property values drop — suburbanites have an incentive to make their schools as strong as possible. I think you are looking at a small handful of elite schools, which (I will concede) are a peculiar animal, and generalizing across a wide range of educational options. Before the state of Ohio would approve Cleveland’s voucher program over a decade ago, it had to have a provision allowing suburban schools to opt out. And — surprise — all of them did. No, it’s not just “elite schools” I’m talking about.



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Doug7504

posted May 26, 2007 at 12:36 am


I really like the questions Rev. Salguero proposes…a comprehensive approach to each candidate, not allowing he or she to focus only on certain talking points. We need real answers and real leaders, not rhetoric masquerading as debate, like we got in the last election. I would have liked to hear the answers to these from Kerry or W! THAT would have been entertaining! Vouchers, and tax breaks, are only small pieces of education reform, and not the most critical ones. But let’s move beyond this issue to bigger ones. Before we can help children grow through education, we need to give them a world in which they can live a healthy life without fear, without hunger, without violence. Where’s the debate about that?How about the abuse of presidential authority as reflected by our current President? Is today’s situation satisfactory?What about protecting the world around us, instead of digging it up or paving it over?What about military interventionism as a cornerstone of American foreign policy, as has been the case for the last 25 years? Time for a new model? And what will that be? These are issues as well, folks! What do you think? Peace!



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Payshun

posted May 26, 2007 at 3:21 am


As it stands, only a handful of parents have real options as to where to send their kid to school. This creates an atmosphere in which there is no external pressure to avert failure. Me: That last one is a myth. If you really want to create the change in school systems then competition like that is not the answer especially when that said competition is what created the problem in the first place. it is going to take a lot of work to transform broken schools, your idea of ditching them is not the best option. There are other options that can fill the gap. Say like tutors and further education, grants for books, teacher evaluations… p



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Sarasotakid

posted May 26, 2007 at 6:02 am


I think that it is pathetic to blame the teachers and the teachers’ unions for the problems we’re having in the schools. Of course teachers need to be held accountable and we want the best teachers possible. We could start by paying them decently. To blame the teachers’ unions and the teachers for our problems is the product of a larger agenda to undermine public education so that education can be privatized.



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kevin s.

posted May 26, 2007 at 8:16 am


“Once the public schools are rated less the property values drop — suburbanites have an incentive to make their schools as strong as possible.” It is not clear to me what your anecdote has to do with vouchers. But yes, I am no more interested in kow-towing to the interests of suburban property owners than I am to teacher’s unions. That was kinda my point. “Before the state of Ohio would approve Cleveland’s voucher program over a decade ago, it had to have a provision allowing suburban schools to opt out.” Lame. Still not an argument against vouchers. And not really an argument about access, either. If you happen to live in one of the very few school districts where the schools are successful, I can understand the impulse to preserve that status quo.



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kevin s.

posted May 26, 2007 at 8:23 am


“I think that it is pathetic to blame the teachers and the teachers’ unions for the problems we’re having in the schools.” Blaming teachers’ unions and blaming teachers are two different things. The knee-jerk impulse of teacher’s unions to mitigate against change has been destorying our schools. “Of course teachers need to be held accountable and we want the best teachers possible. We could start by paying them decently.” We do pay them decently. What would help is if we were not forced to pay them homogenously. If a teacher is profoundly good at what he or she does, that teacher should be rewarded handsomely, not simply offered the standard 3% that Joe-schlub down the hall gets. If you don’t think there are far too many mediocre teachers, then you have counteracted your own point. Starting salaries are not the problem. Job growth is a problem. The only way teachers can substantially increase their salary is by earning more and more masters degrees. Do we have any system in place to ensure that multiple masters degrees actually make one a better teacher? I doubt it. “To blame the teachers’ unions and the teachers for our problems is the product of a larger agenda to undermine public education so that education can be privatized.” No it isn’t. It is a recognition that the system needs to fundamentally change in a manner that encourages success as opposed to sanctioning failure.



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Wayne

posted May 26, 2007 at 2:33 pm


Kevin This is a great article on the current state of our public school system. http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/2005/American-Apartheid-Education1sep05.htm



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 26, 2007 at 2:57 pm


Blaming teachers’ unions and blaming teachers are two different things. The knee-jerk impulse of teacher’s unions to mitigate against change has been destorying our schools. That’s what you think. Teachers unionized for the same reason workers from other industries did — to keep the powers that be from abusing them. Any teacher (both my parents were) will tell you what’s necessary for a secure learning environment, yet “reformers” almost never listen to them. If a teacher is profoundly good at what he or she does, that teacher should be rewarded handsomely, not simply offered the standard 3% that Joe-schlub down the hall gets. Except that there is no practical way to do that. You can’t go merely by test scores for the simple reason that many teachers in that setting will teach only to the test. Besides, the best teachers are not always the popular ones, which is what most parents are looking for. Going further, people may run for school boards to get their children in the class with the award-winning teacher when someone who may be great — but not as good — ends up being ignored. What would that do for morale? (Here you must consider that teaching is really an art, not a science.) How come Leftie-Libs can mix religion and politics and Conservatives get the crowds of screamy hysteriacs on the Left, protesting everything they do “politically?” Because the conservatives want to rule the roost at the expense of everyone else. Folks know that today.



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Wayne

posted May 26, 2007 at 3:45 pm


“Does spelling Christian correctly make someone a Christian?” Donny Judging from your post I would have to say that the answer to this question could be, no. That may seem harsh but you did say, “By “your” fruits you shall know them” I should have noted that the article I mentioned is also by Kozol. It is very compelling in its criticism of our public schools and education policies. My wife and I sent our children to inner-city public schools where they were in the vast minority, 3% white and Asian. It was difficult and I could not demand that any other parent do so. Still, I believe we did the right thing supporting the public school system. Perhaps the sense of danger, and the tension over our decision, kept us more involved in our children’s education that we would have been otherwise, and that made some difference. Who can say? Our children had many experiences that were hard and painful. I would add that they both did very well, were accepted to private colleges and received scholarships based on their acedemic performance. Their ability to function among the highest of the American social economic strata and yet also identify with the poorest and all minorities is a gift they have earned.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 26, 2007 at 3:59 pm


Wayne, I commend you for not just pulling out of the schools. It must have been tough.



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kevin s.

posted May 26, 2007 at 7:54 pm


“Moving your kids out of public schools says that you don’t want to work in the system and improve it.” As presently consituted, I’m not sure I support the system, or want to repair it. I want a different system or, at minimum, a system that is open to comprehensive reform. This system is not, because there is a tremendously powerful political entity agitating for the status quo. I could leave my children to swelter in the education abyss out of some show of solidarity, but I’ve attended public school long enough to know that parents have a louder voice when they boycott the system than when they try to engage the system. “Abandoning the public school will lead to their demise and either the poor kids will get no education at all or the government will pay and force the private schools to take them.” Or the government, broadly speaking, will begin to fight the teachers unions (and the other myriad educational bureaucracies), because it will be politically impossible not to. “So you are back where you were.” Back where I was when? In some ways (not all) I wouldn’t mind turning back the clock on public education.”Of course, your kids will be through school by that age and you will no longer be concerned about it. You will no doubt be concerned about what personally irritates you at the moment.” That isn’t true. The state of our public education system was the impetus for my change in political affiliation. That said, the fact that you consider the abject failure of our public schools to educate a mere irritation is interesting. “Those of us who would like to help in the community would appreciate ideas from the like of you.” Implication being that I don’t want to help in the community. Call me greedy, but for me the life and education of my children takes precedence over the continued success of a failed system. If you are counting on parents to reverse priorities in that scenario, you aren’t contending with reality.



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kevin s.

posted May 26, 2007 at 8:19 pm


“That’s what you think. Teachers unionized for the same reason workers from other industries did — to keep the powers that be from abusing them.” That doesn’t speak to my point at all. I am not opposed to a teacher’s right to unionize. “Any teacher (both my parents were) will tell you what’s necessary for a secure learning environment, yet “reformers” almost never listen to them.” Neither is the educational bureaucracy, apparently. I am sure there are plenty of teachers who have great ideas. I know plenty of teachers who are as frustrated with the unions as I am. However, if this conclusion of your argument is that we should just give the schools more money and let them do what they want, then I disagree. I don’t spend thousands in property taxes to be told that all the problems in public education are my fault. “Except that there is no practical way to do that.” The canard that teaching, as a profession, is somehow immune to any measurement of performance strikes me as absurd. “You can’t go merely by test scores for the simple reason that many teachers in that setting will teach only to the test.” Which isn’t that bad if the test is comprehensive. That said, you needn’t make determinations solely based on test scores or student evaluations. In every other profession, companies have developed metric for performance. I could tell you the handful of high school teachers I had who stood above the rest. It’s not rocket science. If teaching is an art, I can tell you the difference between good art and bad art.Your solution is to throw your hands in the air and say “oh well, let’s just pay them all a lot more.” I’m not with you on that; I don’t care how many teachers you are related to. That’s the attitude that is driving parents away from the system.



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jurisnaturalist

posted May 26, 2007 at 8:28 pm


This list of questions and the ensuing debate demonstrates how far the church has come in demanding that the state do our job for us. 1. Education: If there is a need for the poor to be educated it is the church’s responsibility, not the state’s. There ought not to be an opportunity for the state to provide public education, because the church should already be doing such a good job to provide it. 2. Helathcare is also the responsibility of the church. 3. You can’t have open or even fair immigration and a welfare state at the same time. So, to be just to the immigrants, replace state welfare with church welfare, do a better job of it, and recover the gospel we were given. 4. Abortion is an issue of defining rights. Unfortunately every right also contains a responsibility. It is by disconnecting the two that we get confused. 5. There is no way to ensure a particular quality of life to anyone. This is absolute nonsense. 6. Same-sex unions. The state ought to neither sanction nor grant unions to anyone. It ought to recognize voluntary contracts between individuals. Marriage is the church’s institution alone. Every question posed is fashioned in such a way as to require a statist response. It is always, “What will government do?” Never, “What can government stop doing?” or “How can we restrain the state better?” It is this statist position which conservatives and liberals share in common, and as long as the public debate is limited to this kind of discussion, very little progress will be made. We will only have different factions fighting over a shrinking pie instead of working together to make the pie bigger. Nathanael Snow



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anoniass

posted May 27, 2007 at 1:05 am


The frustrations with our education system are real. I understand the desire to just opt out. It seems best for our children and it seems safe. It seems to be the only prudent alternative.I talked to my son about friends of his that went to a local christian school. They weren’t attending church anymore and I asked him if he knew why. He told me they said “they got enough of that crap at school” I was not shocked but it was ironic that these well meaning parents who were trying to keep their kids safe from Darwinism and dangerous public schools had missed another perhaps more real danger. Today their children are addicts and do not see any real help coming from the church or from God. I do not think that to be usual, just horrible. There are many dangers in America but I think most of them, for us upper middle class families at least, come from money and affluence. Reality seems to elude us and escaping to the suburbs is more than moving your residence. Our mindset is far more critical. we forget that strong kids are safer than isolated kids, and usually the character traits we desire for them are built in adversity and not in what appears to be safe seclusion. If we as Christians live in fear how will our children learn to live by faith? If we live as though safety were possible and prudence was the main watch word dictating all our actions, how will they dare to follow Jesus? If we say we love God but refuse to do those things that will help our fellow man and demonstrate an “I’ve got to care for mine” attitude, will our children believe us? These are hard decisions and I do not fault any parent who opts for what appears to be the careful approach. I just think we should consider all of its implications and realise there is much more to be afraid of than what’s on CNN.



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kevin s.

posted May 27, 2007 at 3:50 am


“Hey Kevin, that was an interesting post on your blog about God’s judgment on Minneapolis for sins. I was just curious as to what motivated it?” It was raining, and I thought it would be fun to pull a Pat Robertson. “There are many dangers in America but I think most of them, for us upper middle class families at least, come from money and affluence. Reality seems to elude us and escaping to the suburbs is more than moving your residence. ” I think a lot of parents think that simply sending kids to Christian schools (or good schools, or whatever) lets them off the hook for good parenting. Parents need to stay involved. Once you have kids, they are more important than careers, living situations, social lives, or whatever. They must learn how to serve God by example, and you must be there to set that example. No school can do that. “These are hard decisions and I do not fault any parent who opts for what appears to be the careful approach. I just think we should consider all of its implications and realise there is much more to be afraid of than what’s on CNN.” I should clarify. My decisions about public schools have little to do with fear. I simply see public schools as a means of garnering an education, and I think public schools fail in that regard. Honestly, I anticipate that we will home-school our children, or enroll them in a co-op. I am not looking for school to provide moral guidance, social skills, or surrogate parenting. Perhaps God will command differently in my life, and will ask for our children to be a light to our particular school district. That is up to him. But for this discussion, I thought it relevant to convey what I and a lot of young newlyweds in our area are thinking.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 27, 2007 at 5:41 am


However, if this conclusion of your argument is that we should just give the schools more money and let them do what they want, then I disagree. I don’t spend thousands in property taxes to be told that all the problems in public education are my fault. Well, if you don’t discipline your children so that they can do well in the classroom there’s not much the teacher can do. If teaching is an art, I can tell you the difference between good art and bad art. Well, I’m a music critic, and as such taste is subjective. I’ve panned CD’s that won Grammies. The canard that teaching, as a profession, is somehow immune to any measurement of performance strikes me as absurd. See above. Besides, the best teacher I ever had was also one of the most hated and ended up retiring after I graduated high school. See, people want charismatic personalities that make kids learn when they don’t want to, and that’s not realistic. And as for money — the good suburban school districts actually pay their teachers more than urban ones.



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squeaky

posted May 27, 2007 at 6:20 am


“I am not looking for school to provide moral guidance, social skills, or surrogate parenting.” And yet, that is the roles teachers routinely find themselves playing. One of the many reasons teachers have a really hard time. Like it or not, they are on the front lines and see the students with the problems, and I have nothing but absolute respect for the job they do. Jurisnaturalist–I’m not sure I understand your post–is that a list of things you are hoping will happen in this country? We do not have a church-sponsored government (separation of church and state, and all that). As a scientist, I wouldn’t like to see education go under the realm of the church…(depends on what denomination would take that responsibility, though) anoniass–great post. Kevin, I don’t think you are putting your kids in other schools out of fear, but I personally know people who are doing just that. They fear darwinism, they fear the values their kids will be exposed to, they fear their kids facing the “real world”. I can understand the desire to protect kids, but how long can that be done practically, and wouldn’t it be better for them to learn about the world with guidance from their parents rather than have to learn it on their own all of a sudden when they leave home? Wayne–I’m amazed by your family! Anyway–in the whole debate seems to me that a lot of blame is going around, and yet no one seems to have any viable solutions. No one also seems to have a clear grip on the problem in the first place. I can’t say I do–I would suggest it is a complex problem that requires a number of perspectives to come together and discuss solutions that will work. In order to do that, we need to clearly articulate the problems in education, and at the same time recognize they don’t come from one source. It isn’t JUST the teachers, it isn’t JUST the Administrators, it isn’t JUST the parents, it isn’t JUST society, it isn’t JUST the students, it isn’t JUST the government, but each has its role to play. Here’s my solution: Start with those trained in education and ask them what they think needs to be done about problems in education. Study successful schools all over the nation (public, private, inner cities, suburbs, small schools, large schools, successful systems in other nations) and find out why they are successful and implement their tactics. Instead of putting a useless standardized test in place of actual learning, let’s find out what is really going on with education and fix it from the ground up, rather than implementing expensive band-aid solutions (you can bet those testing companies have powerful lobbyists in Washington).



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kevin s.

posted May 27, 2007 at 7:37 am


“Well, I’m a music critic, and as such taste is subjective. I’ve panned CD’s that won Grammies.” Well, the relative merits of the Grammy awards aside, Radiohead is in a different class altogether from Puddle of Mudd. “Besides, the best teacher I ever had was also one of the most hated and ended up retiring after I graduated high school.” Hated by whom? Students tend to have an aversion to teachers who make them work hard. If we are paying school administrators 100k per year, I would hope they can tell the difference between teachers who are unpopular because they aren’t charismatic, and those who simply can’t teach. If not, let’s find some who can. “See, people want charismatic personalities that make kids learn when they don’t want to, and that’s not realistic.” I don’t know which “people” you are talking about, but I could care less about charismatic personalites. “And as for money — the good suburban school districts actually pay their teachers more than urban ones.” Not true of Minneapolis. Do you have a source for this?



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kevin s.

posted May 27, 2007 at 8:02 am


“Like it or not, they are on the front lines and see the students with the problems, and I have nothing but absolute respect for the job they do. ” Absolute respect? Without regard for whether what they do is successful? I can’t abide by this. There are great teachers, mediocre teachers, and downright awful teachers.And I do not like that they are on the front lines in terms of upbringing. I understand that some students do not get such upbringing at home, but that does not persuade me that schools ought to have that role foisted upon them.”They fear darwinism, they fear the values their kids will be exposed to, they fear their kids facing the “real world”. ” Do they fear darwinism? Or would they rather their kids not be forced to concede the validity of a theory that runs directly counter to their faith? I’m not starting a discussion about the merits of ID, but this is where they are coming from.I think the argument that exposing young kids to the world’s values when they are not ready has an enormous amount of validity. That is why home-schooling is on the table for my (future) kids. “Here’s my solution: Start with those trained in education and ask them what they think needs to be done about problems in education. Study successful schools all over the nation (public, private, inner cities, suburbs, small schools, large schools, successful systems in other nations) and find out why they are successful and implement their tactics” Good. There are a lot of successful charter school programs out there, dealing with a broad range of students. I think we should work to emulate those programs in mainstream public schools.However, we do have to contend with the fact that organized labor is resistant to these reforms in this scenario. I would liken it to Supreme Court rulings and abortion (this is not an attempt to switch the conversation to abortion). The majority of people would like to see a solution that bans the majority of abortions, but offers solutions to reduce pregnancy and poverty. Such solutions are rendered moot by the courts. “rather than implementing expensive band-aid solutions (you can bet those testing companies have powerful lobbyists in Washington).” So does Apple. I am blown away at the sheer number of computers in our schools. Different conversation… I agree, band-aid solutions don’t work. The defeatist mentality certainly hasn’t worked, either.Perhaps we can have a system that institutes a voucher program that is extremely open. For certain public schools, determine enrollment by lottery (this is actually in place in many districts). For failing schools, work with successful charter schools with similar demographics to implement the same solutions. That said, we still need standardized tests. On an individual basis, some of these tests may not accurate reflect ability. In aggregate, however, they differentiate successful schools from failing schools if you correct for other factors. Use the data to identify the successful schools, and simply have the failing schools play copycat until they get their act together. Teachers who see real turnarounds in their classes get raises. Those who don’t, don’t.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 27, 2007 at 2:51 pm


Hated by whom? In this case, some parents. Not true of Minneapolis. Do you have a source for this? Check it out for yourself — and I think it would also be true in Minneapolis. For failing schools, work with successful charter schools with similar demographics to implement the same solutions. I know that around here there are no effective charter schools. And even at that, if they are effective it’s only because they limit enrollment. You’d be surprised how keeping certain people out can make a school look good — as anyone in a private or good suburban school knows.



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kevin s.

posted May 27, 2007 at 6:39 pm


“Check it out for yourself — and I think it would also be true in Minneapolis.” Nope. My research did come up with this interesting study, by the national federation of teachers. http://www.aft.org/topics/teacher-quality/downloads/Teacher_Transfer_Paper_summary.pdf In endeavoring to debunk the notion the collective bargaining incentivizes the transfer of senior level teachers form high-poverty to low-poverty area, they cite statistics that salary is not a major impetus for the change (ranking 5th among the reasons cited by teachers).The number one reason? Administrative problems. If you dismiss the relevance of this study, you are either conceding that seniority is not a valid measure of teacher quality, or you are conceding that teachers are not selecting job assignments based on pay.”In this case, some parents.” Why would parents me any more likely to hate a non-charismatic teacher more than a charismatic one. As a parent, I prefer the teacher who is getting my kid to bust his or her butt. “I know that around here there are no effective charter schools.” Are they allowed? Are they properly funded? Your area should emulate Minnesota’s charter school policy. “And even at that, if they are effective it’s only because they limit enrollment.” Bologna.”You’d be surprised how keeping certain people out can make a school look good — as anyone in a private or good suburban school knows.” So, again, your solution is to maintain the status quo, wherein the quality of students drive the quality of education. Why have public schools at all, then? Why not just let me take my money and work out my own education solution?Do my family and I exist simply to prop up a governmental institution? Do I get nothing out of this behemoth I spend thousand of dollars supporting?If my school can only improve by virtue of the fact that my kid is improving it, then this is a damning criticism of all the multiple-degreed education specialists who make $125,000 per year “administrating” our schools. Let’s fire them.



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Wayne

posted May 27, 2007 at 8:13 pm


We home schooled our children until the oldest was in sixth grade and the youngest was in the fourth. We did this so as to provide a nurturing environment that would strengthen them and prepare them to better withstand things like peer pressure at school, not just inner city school, but where ever they happened to go. Education is something a good teacher can make better but a bad teacher can’t stop, if the parents are involved and know how to motivate their child. School lays a foundation for this experience, the student has to build upon it. To rely entirely on a school for a child’s education is an abdication of our parenting responsibilities. I think that fact that many do so is probably more important to the deficiencies of our public schools than any other factor. All that said I appreciate the remarks. I am very impressed with my kids also, but I caution any parent who decides to do what my wife and I did. I know other parents who did the same and had differing results. I agree with anoniass though. If we only protect our kids from danger and do not attempt to live in a way I would call “sacrificial” I think we can expect our kids could be negatively affected. They might end up with an MDiv from Dallas, a Phd at Harvard, or become a Fortune 500 CEO, but would that be enough? My father never made more than 1000.00 per month and we didn’t have much of anything. Somewhere along the line he invested in an encyclopedia which he and I would read when he got home from work. I learned more from that experience than anything I did at school. I don’t think that necessarily means my school was bad. I do think we just might be expecting too much from schools. A good teacher with twenty or thirty kids in their class is limited in what they can do. A parent who works 12 hour days is limited also. Both of these scenarios could hamper a childs education. Which one of these do we have the most control over? I think most kids just emulate what we, their parents, teach them.



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Wayne

posted May 27, 2007 at 8:18 pm


Kevin I think you are trying to do the best for your children. I am not critical of your thoughts or your actions. We did what we thought best and it was difficult. Friends of mine made other choices and some of their kids did well, others, not so good. This is very tough ground.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 27, 2007 at 8:28 pm


Why would parents me any more likely to hate a non-charismatic teacher more than a charismatic one. As a parent, I prefer the teacher who is getting my kid to bust his or her butt. That’s possibly because of their own experience with teachers. And a teacher getting a student to bust his or her butt is fairly rare — that’s primarily the parents’ job. Are they allowed? Are they properly funded? Yes, on both counts — but around here charter schools have shown to be a total waste. “And even at that, if they are effective it’s only because they limit enrollment.” Bologna. No, Kevin — gospel. So, again, your solution is to maintain the status quo, wherein the quality of students drive the quality of education. Hardly. I am saying, however, that you should concentrate on improving what you have, and there are steps to do that without spending more mone. Thing is, I’ve already mentioned those. On the other hand, simply changing schools doesn’t really make a difference if the environments don’t change.



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jurisnaturalist

posted May 28, 2007 at 1:06 am


Anoniass, I agree. But is your handle anoniass supposed to imply some sort of foreboding? Or is it your real name? I m just hoping you are not about to drop dead on us. Rick, Whether a student can read, write, and do arithmetic is not subjective. The types of jobs they will be qualified for are not subjective either. If Christians want to ensure that their children will get a good education, then they need to remain involved. I don t take it for granted that my kids are learning anything in public schools. Also, if Christians are concerned that poor kids aren t getting good educations in public schools, then those Christians should do something about it, and provide better education at an accessable price. I spent 8 years doing this in downtown Durham, NC at Agape Corner Boarding School. We could not have survived were it not for private donations. Christians need to support these schools, and not expect the public schools to do anything other than raise good citizens, er, taxpayers. Squeaky, Teachers find themselves providing moral guidance, true, but I don t know what they base their morals on. I believe in an ABSOLUTE separation of church and state. All of the social issues listed in the original post are issues that belong to the church and not the state. So, I want the church to assume full responsibility and work the state out of its involvement. Why wouldn t you want churches to provide education? They consistently do a better job. And fine, if not the church, then other voluntary organizations, but not the state.I would suggest it is a complex problem that requires a number of perspectives to come together and discuss solutions that will work. Which is a whole bunch of people getting together to try to redistribute responsibility so that they each bear the least burden possible. Sorry, won t work. What needs to happen is so absolute and clear that most people can t accept it. The church needs to assume full responsibility for social issues. Until this happens we will continue to have special interests fighting over portions of the public pie. Kevin, There are great teachers, mediocre teachers, and downright awful teachers. Right on. And guess which group can t depend on their merits to keep their jobs so they fall back on a union?Start with those trained in education and ask them or just (gasp) introduce a market system and let it do its thing.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 28, 2007 at 3:31 am


Whether a student can read, write, and do arithmetic is not subjective. The types of jobs they will be qualified for are not subjective either. If Christians want to ensure that their children will get a good education, then they need to remain involved. I don t take it for granted that my kids are learning anything in public schools. You just identified the number one problem in the American school system that few address — utilitarianism. In that, we think of education, especially at the post-secondary level, as mere job-training. On the other hand, children should learn for its own sake and be willing to do so — they teach that in many non-Western cultures, and that’s precisely why Asians do so well, particularly in mathematics-based subjects. I finished my college degree 10 years ago and am thinking about another, but neither are in disciplines where I’m guaranteed a high-paying job. Why would I do that? Because I have come to appreciate the very process of learning. Why wouldn t you want churches to provide education? They consistently do a better job. And fine, if not the church, then other voluntary organizations, but not the state. Not necessarily; indeed, until fairly recently many of these Christian “schools” actually were worse than their public counterparts. And besides, the reason (and I know this from experience) that Christian schools do better is because their students come from more stable domestic environments. When I was attending one back in the 1970s I can’t recall any of my classmates coming from “broken” homes.



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anoniass

posted May 28, 2007 at 3:31 am


jurisnaturalist “But is your handle anoniass supposed to imply some sort of foreboding? Or is it your real name? I m just hoping you are not about to drop dead on us.” Good guesses,How did you know? but no foreboding intended It just seemed a better prefix than “Jack”.



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squeaky

posted May 28, 2007 at 6:26 am


Juris– “So, I want the church to assume full responsibility and work the state out of its involvement.” Well, then. DO IT. You know, I have heard this sentiment repeated time and time again, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what is stopping churches from doing this. If the church started taking responsibility like it should be, then the state wouldn’t have to be involved because those needs would already be taken care of. But with all the millions of churches in this country, why hasn’t it happened? “or just (gasp) introduce a market system and let it do its thing.” Your posts suggest that the government can’t solve anything. I don’t understand why you then put your faith in the market system. Stay consistent–the market is a human construct, too, so it is just as empty to have faith in that as well. Don’t put your faith in mammon.



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kevin s.

posted May 28, 2007 at 8:28 am


“Well, then. DO IT. You know, I have heard this sentiment repeated time and time again, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what is stopping churches from doing this.” Nothing is, and they are. A number of home-schooling Christians are getting together for co-ops and working with other parents. A good step would be to remove funding from the system that isn’t working, which invariably places money in the systems that are. If I don’t pay $2,500 in property taxes every year, I can use that money to better my child’s education.”Stay consistent–the market is a human construct, too,” One that is outperforming our public education system, which is the point. I am not advocating an entirely market-based system. However, there are a lot of structures that would have to be removed before we could even come close to having the “free market” discussion.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 28, 2007 at 3:02 pm


However, there are a lot of structures that would have to be removed before we could even come close to having the “free market” discussion. For a conservative like yourself, this sounds like an awfully “liberal” argument. After all, “liberals” are more likely than conservatives to blame “structures” than individual effort for lack of achievement — but now that’s it gets close to home has that changed?



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jurisnaturalist

posted May 28, 2007 at 5:50 pm


Rick, children should learn for its own sake and be willing to do so how do you propose enforcing this, if not by natural incentives? Natural incentives require work to have some sort of fruit attached. Why learn except to be able to use it?Why would I (get an education in a discipline which adds nothing to my earning potential)? Because you already have an education which guarantees you a satisfactory earning potential. Which should come first? There are two camps in Christiandom. The first cries poor mouth all the time. Schools of this camp provide horrendous educations. The second does their work as unto the Lord, hires qualified workers and pays them a decent wage. Schools of this camp provide exemplary educations. I ll grant you the difference, and point out that the first has more in common with the welfare-statist mentality and the second has more in common with the market-based individualist mentality. anoniass, Glad to hear you ll be back, Jack. squeaky, Well the DO it I have noted before that I spent 8 years working in downtown, Durham, NC, at a school called Agape Corner Boarding School. My parents are missionaries there now. It is a school for low-income students with troubled homes and they charge no tuition or board. All the staff are paid a small stipend, and none have pensions. I m living out what I preach.with all the millions of churches in this country, why hasn’t it happened? Because we believe the state is an adequate surrogate for the church. We have absolved ourselves of the responsibility. As the state has assumed more of the responsibility charitable giving has noticeably fallen. Charles Murray has done some decent work in this area. He thinks that it s the state s fault for assume the responsibility and robbing churches of their vitality. I place full blame upon the church for having allowed it.Your posts suggest that the government can’t solve anything. I don’t understand why you then put your faith in the market system. 1. Government is only good at wielding the sword to punish evildoers. (Rom 13, yawn) 2. I believe that human nature can only be altered by regeneration through Christ, and absent this regeneration there are certain qualities about human nature which are consistent. The market process accurately identifies these characteristics and constructs a system consistent with human nature. All other systems require a change in human nature for them to work. 3. The market is not a human construct, it is a spontaneous result of humans acting in accordance with their nature. 4. The market is not money, or mammon. Money is merely the lubricant which makes the market more efficient.



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wayne

posted May 28, 2007 at 7:40 pm


Somewhere in this discussion the years 1964 and 1971 should come into play. It was the force desegregation of schools and the Supreme Courts ruling on busing that spurred private education growth to its current levels. Until 1996 I believe the 1971-72 registration level for private education was unequaled. I do not know what happened in 1996. Perhaps someone more knowlegeable could inform us. I am not saying that all people who opt for private education are racist in their motives, I do not believe that to be true at all, but it does have something to do with our current Public school situation. Public schools have lost their assumed role since Civil rights legislation and have declined in their ability to compete ever since. In every catagory Private schools on the whole now do better than Public schools.There are exceptions on both sides but the statistics are there for us to see. I do not think the debate should be over which can do a better job for the individual student. It should include our civic duty to those who cannot afford any other option. If not, then based on the statistics alone, we should be willing to abdicate corporate/civil responsibility and cease all public education. The later would be drastic and far reaching in its effects. It may be better, but it could also be far worse. I think it is too big a gamble. Whatever choice we take for our own children if the “haves” in a society do not concern themselves with the education of the children of the “have nots” we as a society will certainly be doomed. How well our own kids do education wise, will probably not matter. Send your kids to Harvard if you can but look for and fight for the betterment of education for the poorest segments of our cities. It is in our best interests. It is telling that parents who are willing to pay as much as thirty thousand dollars per year for their own children’s private education will often balk when asked to raise taxes for public schooling. If the extra money is good for the Goose why isn’t is good for the Gander?



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 28, 2007 at 8:43 pm


Natural incentives require work to have some sort of fruit attached. Why learn except to be able to use it? You just proved my point. It’s about the learning process, not about getting a job. Because you already have an education which guarantees you a satisfactory earning potential. Which should come first? No, I do not. My degree is in communications, which guarantees nothing, especially now, and the other degree I’m looking into is political science, which isn’t entirely “marketable” either. I feel fortunate that I have a job that does pay me pretty well but that I’m slightly overqualified for. BTW, nearly 30 years ago I started out in engineering, which in those days was considered marketable, and that was the biggest mistake I ever made. It was the force desegregation of schools and the Supreme Courts ruling on busing that spurred private education growth to its current levels. Until 1996 I believe the 1971-72 registration level for private education was unequaled. I do not know what happened in 1996. Perhaps someone more knowlegeable could inform us. I’ll go even further. The “religious right” got started back in 1978; Southern Christians got ticked off with the Carter Administration sicced the IRS on private schools that he suspected were started to evade integration rulings in courts. I said earlier on this thread that the desirability of a school is inversely proportional to its access — but that didn’t get over.



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kevin s.

posted May 28, 2007 at 8:49 pm


“After all, “liberals” are more likely than conservatives to blame “structures” than individual effort for lack of achievement” I don’t even know where to begin. By structures, I refer to a union structure that preserves the status quo at all costs, schools that are manipulated by the politically ambitious, overpaid administrators who are unaccuntable to success, and a system that contineu to demand more money.There is nothing liberal about wanting to remove those structures. Further, I am aware that many students simply don’t put in the effort. They are not off the hook, but neither are public schools who fail to educate students. “– but now that’s it gets close to home has that changed?” This is what happens when you only understand conservatism as “a method for greedy people to stay rich”. You can’t even parse out an issue from both perspectives. I’m not even sure you know what YOU would do to improve public schools.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 29, 2007 at 4:04 am


By structures, I refer to a union structure that preserves the status quo at all costs, schools that are manipulated by the politically ambitious, overpaid administrators who are unaccountable to success, and a system that continues to demand more money. As if those are the primary problems problems that need to be addressed. For openers, without a union, politics, not “quality,” will be the driving force in hiring and promotion, and if that were the case the schools will be worse than they are now — and you best believe the teachers know this. The unions actually allow teachers the freedom to do their jobs without worrying that some school board member will have their head on a platter for somehow being offensive. If you think I’m just blowing smoke, understand that in my former school district, the one in which my mother taught for many years, the board tried to privatize a school just to get rid of one teacher, and it became a national case. (The privatization failed, as we knew it would, because the underlying issues were never addressed.) This is what happens when you only understand conservatism as “a method for greedy people to stay rich”. You can’t even parse out an issue from both perspectives. I’m not even sure you know what YOU would do to improve public schools. I’ve already said, but you had your mind made up as to what the true issues were before I stood up to oppose you. I’ve been around public education literally all my life, and I KNOW what they are. And it is because of that knowledge that I understand legitimate perspectives, and not all of them are legitimate. Now, as far as I’m concerned, you are in complete denial that people subvert the system to keep the underprivileged out, but I’ve seen it enough times, part of that in the district where I now live, to know that it indeed is the case.



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Payshun

posted May 29, 2007 at 4:35 am


Kevin: We do pay them decently. What would help is if we were not forced to pay them homogenously. If a teacher is profoundly good at what he or she does, that teacher should be rewarded handsomely, not simply offered the standard 3% that Joe-schlub down the hall gets. Me: No we don’t, I can look up stats if you want (better yet since we have danced this before) please show stats where we look at the income teachers are making in your area Kevin.Kevin: If you don’t think there are far too many mediocre teachers, then you have counteracted your own point. Starting salaries are not the problem. Job growth is a problem. Me: you don’t know what you are talking about. Starting salaries are only now becoming competitive. Before that they were significantly less than people not involved in education. Kevin: The only way teachers can substantially increase their salary is by earning more and more masters degrees. Do we have any system in place to ensure that multiple masters degrees actually make one a better teacher? I doubt it. Me: Ofcourse you doubt it because you don’t get the chance to see what they are actually learning in their courses. If you saw syllabi and the course curriculum me thinks that would change your tune. As it stands now you sound fairly ignorant of what actually goes into teachers getting masters degrees especially for the K-12 system. p



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Payshun

posted May 29, 2007 at 4:37 am


Teachers unions are generally run by teachers and are made up of teachers that only want the best for their students.They do great work. I have already shown what the mission statement of Southern California before do I need to do that again? p



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kevin s.

posted May 29, 2007 at 4:49 am


“As if those are the primary problems problems that need to be addressed. For openers, without a union, politics, not “quality,” will be the driving force in hiring and promotion” Ah yes, teachers unions are known for being apolitical. Are you kidding me? Is there a more politically oriented set of organizations in the country than the teachers unions? “and if that were the case the schools will be worse than they are now — and you best believe the teachers know this.” Not all of them. Just the Democrats. This might blow your mind, but there are actual, certified Republicans amongst the teaching ranks. There are people who think the system needs fixing. “The unions actually allow teachers the freedom to do their jobs without worrying that some school board member will have their head on a platter for somehow being offensive.” As I said, both structures need to be eliminated. I don’t recall heaping praises upon school boards. There is no quick fix, and we have to change the paradigm. I would add that the problem in Minnesota goes beyond my neighborhood. As I said, I went to a suburban school, and the education I received was abysmal. We were subjected to no end of educational fads, standards were ridiculously low, and administration didn’t even recognize there was a problem.



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kevin s.

posted May 29, 2007 at 5:19 am


“No we don’t, I can look up stats if you want (better yet since we have danced this before) please show stats where we look at the income teachers are making in your area Kevin.” $47k in Minnesota. Given that Teachers work 9 months out of the year (maybe 9.5 if you factor in workshops and errata), I stand by my claim that we pay teachers decently. “you don’t know what you are talking about. Starting salaries are only now becoming competitive.” Competitive with what? That said, I have no problem paying the very best teachers great salaries. Heck, I have no problem paying them $100k, so long as they are worth it. But, according to the establishment, there is no way of determining whether a teacher is good or not. “Ofcourse you doubt it because you don’t get the chance to see what they are actually learning in their courses. If you saw syllabi and the course curriculum me thinks that would change your tune.” My friend is going through the process of getting his second masters degree. He enjoys the material, but it has no relevance to what he is teaching. This makes sense, given that he is teaching high schoolers. “As it stands now you sound fairly ignorant of what actually goes into teachers getting masters degrees especially for the K-12 system.” I know that it isn’t relevant in a high school classroom, which isn’t to say that it has no merit whatsoever. That said, when you are countering the only substantial opportunity for a raise in salary with the cost of attaining a Master’s degree, you had better be sure it is entirely relevant. That said, my home-schooling friends are not contending with underachieving students in their classrooms. Their students are learning just fine. So how many masters degrees do you think are necessary to be a good teacher?



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kevin s.

posted May 29, 2007 at 5:20 am


“They do great work. I have already shown what the mission statement of Southern California before do I need to do that again?” Mission statements are completely and utterly meaningless to me.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 29, 2007 at 5:30 am


This might blow your mind, but there are actual, certified Republicans amongst the teaching ranks. There are people who think the system needs fixing. The few Republicans I know in the ranks have been changing their tune on that as well. I stand by my claim that we pay teachers decently. Yeah, if you have a master’s — and today they have to pay for that extra education out of their own pockets. But, according to the establishment, there is no way of determining whether a teacher is good or not. Maybe the establishment you so despise actually knows something. Try to pay “good” teachers more money and parents will clamor to get their kids in classes with the “good” teacher, even though other teachers may be just fine. As I said, that has to do more with politics than with educational quality — and why such a proposal actually will cause division in not only the school but also the community where it’s located.



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Payshun

posted May 29, 2007 at 6:12 am


$47k in Minnesota. Given that Teachers work 9 months out of the year (maybe 9.5 if you factor in workshops and errata), I stand by my claim that we pay teachers decently. Me: They start out making that much? How many masters degrees did it take to make that? Most people here start out (w/ just a bachelors) making 32K or less.Kevin: Competitive with what? That said, I have no problem paying the very best teachers great salaries. Heck, I have no problem paying them $100k, so long as they are worth it. But, according to the establishment, there is no way of determining whether a teacher is good or not. Me: That last part is not even true. There are ways to determine a good teacher or not and any school recieving state or federal funds will tell you that. if their test scores are low then they don’t get money, can and will loose funds, maybe even the school. So what are you talking about? Competitive w/ other industries. Heck a good chef can start out making $42K granted that’s not the norm but you get the point. Lawyers (dending on where they work start off making 50-100K,) Dr’s even more depending on whether they are surgeons…, hell bus drivers here in my city start out making 50K. So again teachers here in CA don’t start out making that much.I have a lot of friends that have masters in education and much of their training was practical. They have to have a lot lab hours in a classroom. they can’t get their degree w/o it. I don’t know what’s happening in MA. But here in CA (@ the elite grad schools think Berkley and UCLA) the education program is challenging and practical. I have even seen this at smaller colleges like Chapman and USD. Master’s degrees are only as good as the program the university offers. It’s weak to just critique all of them w/o actually going to school and studying the program. p



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Payshun

posted May 29, 2007 at 6:16 am


So how many masters degrees do you think are necessary to be a good teacher? Me: Good question but I wonder if that’s the question you are really asking? I am wondering if the question you are really asking are Master’s degrees necessary? One can be a great teacher w/ a degree or w/o one. I have seen some amazing teachers w/o degrees do great work. Whoever has a heart to love students and the ability to motivate them will succeed.But Master’s degrees for really great teachers can help them in their classrooms. p



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peggy

posted May 29, 2007 at 3:16 pm


Global: US Foreign policy: Please ask candidates to address the US foreighn policy with respect to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and Israel’s violation of the Geneva conventions, in that Israel continues to move Israeli citizens into the occupied territory of Palestine and Israel annexes land that doesn’t belong to Israel…Address the powerful influence Israel has over American foreign policy and the huge amount of ” foreign aid” US dedicates to Israel, much of it military aid and going into the creation of more illegal settlements and the infrastructure to connect these settlements and expropriating more Palestinian land…If elected representatives are heavily influenced by Israel’s PAC ( AIPAC) then the skewed Middle East policies will not change and we will have more enemies there than friends. Our dependence on oil is only one problem relative to Middle East policies. The Israeli=Palestinian peace process needs to have a peace with justice outcome and not be a deceptive ” peace process” that does not secure peace and justice.



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kevin s.

posted May 29, 2007 at 6:14 pm


“Yeah, if you have a master’s — and today they have to pay for that extra education out of their own pockets.” Which is utter stupidity, which is part of my point.”Maybe the establishment you so despise actually knows something.” I see no evidence of this.”Try to pay “good” teachers more money and parents will clamor to get their kids in classes with the “good” teacher, even though other teachers may be just fine.” Why the scare quotes around “good”? Are you suggesting that there literally are no teachers who are better than others? Again, I find baffling this suggestion that the teaching profession, unlike virtually every other profession in existence, is immune to measures of quality “As I said, that has to do more with politics than with educational quality — and why such a proposal actually will cause division in not only the school but also the community where it’s located.” So we are required to pay all teachers the same, lest we cause division? That is the most ridiculous argument I have ever heard. What incentive, then, is there for teachers to go above and beyond to teach well?Of course, in your little world, the answer to this is that teachers are virtuous by definition, and therefore immune to any sort of financial incentive… So why are they going to get all these Masters degrees?



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kevin s.

posted May 29, 2007 at 6:32 pm


“They start out making that much? How many masters degrees did it take to make that? Most people here start out (w/ just a bachelors) making 32K or less. ” You can’t get hired in Minnesota if you don’t have a Master’s, which (again) is absurd, but renders the point moot. At any rate, the average teacher is paid $47k. You start lower and end higher. Starting pay in my profession is about $29k. In my wife’s profession, it is about $31k. A starting salary of $32k is utterly reasonable.”That last part is not even true. There are ways to determine a good teacher or not and any school recieving state or federal funds will tell you that” I’ll let you duke this out with Rick, then. “Competitive w/ other industries. Heck a good chef can start out making $42K granted that’s not the norm but you get the point. ” You could play this game with any profession. Chef’s start out as cooks, and they do no make anywhere in the vicinity of $42k to start. Once they are chefs, they usually have training and experience (as well as the willingness to work terrible hours in a hot kitchen) that certainly merits their salary. You’ve made my point, not yours. “Dr’s even more depending on whether they are surgeons…,” In a discussion of whether teacher’s get decent pay, it is ridiculous to compare the salary of a Doctor to a teacher. Doctors are rich because they go to school forever (which, unlike the accrual of myriad Masters degrees by teachers, is manifestly applicable to their profession). “But here in CA (@ the elite grad schools think Berkley and UCLA) the education program is challenging and practical.” We don’t have elite grad schools in MN. What challenging and practical work do you do in Grad school that you do not to in a classroom? “One can be a great teacher w/ a degree or w/o one. I have seen some amazing teachers w/o degrees do great work. Whoever has a heart to love students and the ability to motivate them will succeed.But Master’s degrees for really great teachers can help them in their classrooms.” That’s fine. And if that teacher can prove to their employer that the masters degree has made them worthy of greater compensation, then that is fantastic. However, to make this the only means of increasing salary is patently absurd, as your quote indicates.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 29, 2007 at 6:58 pm


Why the scare quotes around “good”? Are you suggesting that there literally are no teachers who are better than others? Again, I find baffling this suggestion that the teaching profession, unlike virtually every other profession in existence, is immune to measures of quality. Have you ever heard of the phenomenon called “tracking”? Yeah, that’s right — children, especially at the secondary levels, are placed with those of similar “abilities” or competency. The question thus arises: Who gets to teach the “faster” or “slower” classes, and on what basis are those decisions made? Now, by definition, one class is going to do better academically or on standardized tests than another because of the students’ aggregate talents, so should the teacher thus become responsible for his/her students’ capabilities? Again, you are assuming that all scholastic situations are equal. Wrong.



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God's Politics Moderator

posted May 29, 2007 at 7:37 pm


“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) This message thread has been visited by a God’s Politics Blog moderator for the purpose of removing inappropriate posts. Click here for a detailed explanation of the Beliefnet Rules of Conduct: http://www.beliefnet.com/about/rules.asp which includes: Help us keep the conversation civil and respectful by reporting inappropriate posts to: community@staff.beliefnet.com 4



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Carl Copas

posted May 29, 2007 at 8:52 pm


This will sound like boasting but even the Apostle Paul thumped his chest occasionally (e.g. 2 Corinthians 10-11). I’m not only a member of a teachers’ union (higher education, state university), I’m an officer of our campus chapter of the union. I’ve won two campus-wide teaching awards and have given dozens of workshops on teaching methodology and curriculum content. All of which, I think, means I know something about the topic. kevin s, I’ve no problem with rewarding the better teachers with salary increases or bonuses. But it’s not as easy as you suggest. You had better make darn sure the process of evaluation isn’t corrupt.If controlled solely by administrators, they will reward their favorites, thus making the system one of patronage. Same difficulty on the other side if entirely controlled by faculty–people who are not well liked will suffer, even if they are sterling classroom instructors. If you base evaluation solely on outcome–grades of students or performance on standardized tests–then you wind up teaching strictly to the test. That’s not education, it’s training, and there is a difference.



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kevin s.

posted May 29, 2007 at 9:28 pm


“Have you ever heard of the phenomenon called “tracking”? Yeah, that’s right — children, especially at the secondary levels, are placed with those of similar “abilities” or competency. The question thus arises: Who gets to teach the “faster” or “slower” classes, and on what basis are those decisions made?” Is this meant to suggest that we cannot monitor teacher performance? This would be a CEO saying we cannot monitor employee effectiveness on account of differing roles within a company. Nonsense, you simply compare apples to apples.”kevin s, I’ve no problem with rewarding the better teachers with salary increases or bonuses. But it’s not as easy as you suggest. You had better make darn sure the process of evaluation isn’t corrupt. ” Sometimes it will be. Minneapolis schools are corrupt anyway. Administrators should be accountable to the performance of their schools. Fire the performing teachers, and your school doesn’t perform.”If you base evaluation solely on outcome–grades of students or performance on standardized tests–then you wind up teaching strictly to the test. That’s not education, it’s training, and there is a difference.” Perhaps. The training, however, justifies the enormous amount of money we put into our public education system. I dare you to accompany a bond referendum by indicating that it isn’t about training, but rather education. The public, by and large, sees our schools as a means to be trained and prepared for “the real world”. That means learning to read, write, perform artithmetic, etc… If our schools are not achieving this, you are not going to convince me that they are providing an education.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 29, 2007 at 9:31 pm


Carl — Thank you. For once, someone who knows the real story.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 29, 2007 at 9:38 pm


This would be a CEO saying we cannot monitor employee effectiveness on account of differing roles within a company. Nonsense, you simply compare apples to apples. But in this case, we may indeed be comparing apples to oranges because an academic track is going to test higher than, say, a vocational track. The public, by and large, sees our schools as a means to be trained and prepared for “the real world”. That means learning to read, write, perform artithmetic, etc … If our schools are not achieving this, you are not going to convince me that they are providing an education. Which, as I have said before, is part of the problem. Children should learn not to focus on wage-earning skills but because it’s what they’re supposed to do, and it is hopefully a lifetime process. I wish someone would have told me that when I was a teenager; I’d have been a lot better off.



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wayne

posted May 29, 2007 at 11:25 pm


Carl what does make a good teacher? What differences are apparent and we are sure of? Are all these differences quantifiable?



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Payshun

posted May 29, 2007 at 11:39 pm


Kevin: You could play this game with any profession. Chef’s start out as cooks, and they do no make anywhere in the vicinity of $42k to start. Once they are chefs, they usually have training and experience (as well as the willingness to work terrible hours in a hot kitchen) that certainly merits their salary.You’ve made my point, not yours. Me: Actually no. Your point was that all teacher’s salaries in MA start off at 42K. I said that’s not true. Only after getting a degree does one’s salary increase. You say that’s not right. I say it is. A chef doesn’t have to go to culinary school to get a degree, he/she can just work in a kitchen and work up.That’s not true for teachers based off of what you said. Teachers start off making anywhere from 28K to 32K that’s why they deserve more money. They tend to work longer hours during the school year w/ very little compensation and many (particularly in inner city schools) buy school supplies out of their own pockets.Kevin said: We don’t have elite grad schools in MN. What challenging and practical work do you do in Grad school that you do not to in a classroom? Me: Oh I don’t know learn about better teaching techniques for how deal w/ preparing lessons for auditory, kinestic, and visual learners, mentors and student advice, funds for various classroom activities, more undergrads helping in the classroom, motivation theory, dealing w/ the private lives of your students (psychology,) and a host of other teaching tools that any good teacher will need to make sure that all (or as many as possible) succeed in learning. Trust me getting a creditial can only prepare you for so much. Practical experience and better teachers go a long way in helping teachers become better and they do that in grad school. p



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chuck

posted May 29, 2007 at 11:41 pm


I love it when people come up with lists of things for politicians to talk about when in reality the number of voters who give a damn about any of the items would fit into a large broom closet.



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Carl Copas

posted May 30, 2007 at 10:06 pm


Wayne asked: “Carl what does make a good teacher? What differences are apparent and we are sure of? Are all these differences quantifiable?” great question Wayne. Hmmm, for starters: a good teacher knows the subject matter content, understands that different students learn in different ways and so employs a variety of pedagogical methods, likes students, loves teaching and learning, continuously works to get better.



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kevin s.

posted May 31, 2007 at 4:33 am


“Actually no. Your point was that all teacher’s salaries in MA start off at 42K.” I didn’t say this anywhere. You asked what teachers make in MN, and I answered that they make $47k on average. I said nothing about starting pay. “Only after getting a degree does one’s salary increase.” To which I answered that starting pay for teachers is still decent, typically in the low 30s. “A chef doesn’t have to go to culinary school to get a degree, he/she can just work in a kitchen and work up. ” Depends on the restaurant. Either way, a chef isn’t starting at 42k, or anywhere near it.”Oh I don’t know learn about better teaching techniques for how deal w/ preparing lessons for auditory, kinestic, and visual learners, mentors and student advice, funds for various classroom activities, more undergrads helping in the classroom, motivation theory, dealing w/ the private lives of your students (psychology,)” And so on. I am aware that Masters degree programs have a curriculum. I would argue that teacher’s learn more by simply teaching then they do in the classroom. But again, if getting a Masters degree makes you a better teacher, this will be reflected in the results. Further, you concede that there are great teachers who don’t have a plethora of degrees.



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Payshun

posted May 31, 2007 at 7:26 pm


Starting pay is what we are talking about Kevin, not the average. In MN 26-28K may be enough to live on but in most places in CA it is not when one has to throw in loans… It takes years for teachers to make 47K and a masters degree.Kevin: And so on. I am aware that Masters degree programs have a curriculum. I would argue that teacher’s learn more by simply teaching then they do in the classroom.I would agree w/ you. You don’t become a better teacher except by teaching and learning new ways to further the craft and that can be cone w/ the experience of a great mentor(s) or getting a master’s degree. “Depends on the restaurant. Either way, a chef isn’t starting at 42k, or anywhere near it.” Actually that’s not true. Chefs can make that as private chefs and caterers. I have seen it. p



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kevin s.

posted May 31, 2007 at 10:11 pm


“Actually that’s not true. Chefs can make that as private chefs and caterers. I have seen it.” And you can make $42k as a prviate tutor, but find me an ad for a chef’s position that pays $42k with no experience.”Starting pay is what we are talking about Kevin, not the average. In MN 26-28K may be enough to live on but in most places in CA it is not when one has to throw in loans..” It’s 33k in CA (about 32k in MN), and that is enough to live on. Everyone has college loans in the professional world. Of course, if teachers are forced to pay off loans from tertiary degrees, then yeah, it’s inadequate. So eliminate the requirement.



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Payshun

posted June 1, 2007 at 2:33 am


Kevin: It’s 33k in CA (about 32k in MN), and that is enough to live on. Everyone has college loans in the professional world. Of course, if teachers are forced to pay off loans from tertiary degrees, then yeah, it’s inadequate. So eliminate the requirement. ME: That would still leave undergraduate degrees. Contrary to what you think Masters degrees do and can help Kevin. You: And you can make $42k as a prviate tutor, but find me an ad for a chef’s position that pays $42k with no experience.Me: Kevin, that’s just silly. You can’t walk into any field (save modelling and acting) and make 42K. Leaving culinary school chefs (at the school I will be attending) make a minumum of 36K.p



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Bill Samuel

posted June 2, 2007 at 2:55 am


But we already know where the three candidates stand on a lot of this: – they all favor unlimited abortion; – they all favor a larger military and an increased military budget, which also means there won’t be much money for fighting poverty; and – they all favor the death penalty. Sojourners have picked three candidates who are the enemies of carrying out the gospel of Jesus Christ and are anointing them as the choices among which we should choose. How shameful! Being “ordained” (by human institutions) as ministers of the gospel does not justify Wallis, McLaren, Salguero, etc. trying to sidetrack dedicated Christians from working for the kingdom of God and into becoming shills for the likes of Clinton, Obama and Edwards. These false prophets are good at blasting the “religious right” but ape them by standing for a different wing of the establishment against the gospel.



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Mia Airport Parking

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