School education again

Recalling last week’s call for the Coalition to get serious about school education, we now have clear evidence of the bungling and incompetence of our leaders in education over the last three or four decades. They delivered a cohort of students who were not taught grammar and related disciplines of spelling and punctuation. Now we have teachers who don’t know those things and so they need remedial training in those places where the authorities have decided to do better.

This is a state responsibility and the Commonwealth should get out of the way. Sack a few thousand more excess tax eaters in Canberra. Commonwealth participation only slows progress by bogging down in the six-monthly COAG meetings where any state that wants to drag the chain can demand another round of consultation and background papers.

This calls for a serious and sustained effort to get the destructive ideologues out of the key positions in the education departments and to confront the unions with the aid of concerned parents in the P&Cs. It will be a miracle if the Coalition governments can find the personnel and the fortitude to go the distance but it is a miracle that we desperately need.

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89 Responses to School education again

  1. Keith

    In addition our esteemed PM was of the opinion that she would much rather be sitting in a classroom hearing children read than attending international meetings. Clearly, she wanted to ensure that kids weren’t learning. If they had any honour, Rudd and Gillard should tender their resignations on this issue alone. It’s time for a voucher system where parents can seek out quality teaching for their kids.

  2. a voucher system

    Ah! The wonderful voucher system. Refer me to a review of how it works in practice. In the meantime, read this.

    The problem with universal voucher schemes is that while increased choice provides private benefits for some, there is a significant risk that these benefits would be outweighed by the associated social costs. The main risks are that vouchers would lower the average level of educational achievement, decrease equality of opportunity and reduce social cohesion. Voucher schemes are also likely to be expensive and lead to a widening of the resource gap between both government and non-government schools, and between wealthy and poor private schools.

    From School Vouchers
    An evaluation of their impact on education outcomes
    Andrew Macintosh and Deb Wilkinson – The Australia Institute.

  3. Kruddler

    Getting rid of structured, phonics-style learning and replacing it with classroom-less ‘research’ where each child learns at his/her own pace in many schools was and is a dumb decision.

  4. Token

    What my friends who are teachers tell me endlessly is that what teachers need are enough text books for the children in classes.

  5. Rafe

    Brilliant call Numbers! The Australia Institute is part of the problem, not the solution.

    Australia’s leaading progressive think tank. LOL!

  6. .

    That is complete and utter nonsense, numbers.

    Vouchers are a great idea.

    What is needed in education is to drop the 1950s style of teaching we have an adopt the Finnish system (basically world’s best practice, on outcomes) for charter schools initially as they are privatised/gifted to the local community and let competition flourish.

    The main risks are that vouchers would lower the average level of educational achievement, decrease equality of opportunity and reduce social cohesion. Voucher schemes are also likely to be expensive and lead to a widening of the resource gap between both government and non-government schools, and between wealthy and poor private schools.

    All bullshit.

  7. Noname’s got an attack of the Glibs again.
    Get help.

  8. .

    Glib? Those “researchers” lied. They just listed a heap of issues and lied about them. “Ooh I’m concerned”. This is the level of anti vaccination cranks.

    Get help.

    Go fuck yourself.

    Vouchers work, moron.

    Oh no, what we need to do is …. employ more civil servants to disburse money. That will help kids to learn literacy, numeracy, science, art and humanities.

  9. Megan

    After starting my career as a primary school teacher I now work with the students who reflect the poor quality of our education system. The rot began in the mid-seventies and is now so entrenched that tertiary institutions all over the country have had to establish academic skills units to give the students the basics of what they need to complete their coursework. It’s a sorry state of affairs when international students have grammatically better written and spoken English than the locals.

    I matriculated in the late 6o’s. I could spell, write well constructed essays, understood how to argue a position and find flaws in the arguments of others, could summarise and knew how to research, footnote and attribute sources and write an annotated bibliography. I’ve been asked in 2013 to teach all that and more to first, second and third year students because almost all of them have reached this level of education without developing any of the above. I am both gobsmacked and furious on their behalf.

    In a committee meeting recently a professor at a regional university said we were wrong to ask our first year students to do a literature review as it would freak them out and put them off the subject. Bollocks!

    In another battle, the teacher training faculty had to fight tooth and nail to make third year students re-sit and pass a numeracy test which 60% failed in second year. It’s not about class sizes or how much we pay teachers. Set standards and teach the basics. And start setting even higher standards for potential teachers.

  10. Rafe-Australia gets rolled by the same UNESCO policies that I wrote about here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/values-and-vocational-creating-citizen-drones-via-education-worldwide/

    I am citing a Global UNESCO document from 1989 that also affected Australian education. Moreover the new economics foundation economic vision is influencing both global economic development to fit with The Great Transition and global ed policy to fit with economies redesigned and planned around Green Growth and low carbon energy. Basically CAGW is a big excuse to control the economy and natural resources. Not to mention use education, K-12 and higher ed, to change values, attitudes, and beliefs to impact adult behavior and what merits political action.

    I know Australia had fully embraced Transformational Outcomes Education by name by the early 90s. The Core Skills document Gillard put out for K-12 has very little student knowledge in it.

    I have a lot of documents on Australian education. The really key year in rejecting the transmission of knowledge template was about 2001 when Australia adopted the ATLAS Project from the US-Assessing Teaching and Learning for All Students.

  11. Andrew

    I have just completed Year 12 and probably have a better understanding of the problems in the system than most ‘academics’. The problems with the education system in Australia are the lazy culture within the classrooms, the poor attitude of students towards school and a poor curriculum.

    The lazy culture starts with the parents. The parents do not remotely push their kids to strive to achieve their potential and do not set a culture at home that promotes learning, instead for video games. The culture inside the classrooms is the same as the home. A learning culture is simply non-existent. Students, even at Year 12, simply are distracted and this negatively effects other students who want to learn, therefore this is a detriment to the kids who want to learn. Might I add, that I went to a private school for both my primary and secondary education so this is not just a public school system problem This leads to my second point.

    The students have a poor attitude to learning. Many year 12 students simply say that they want to receive good marks at the end of the year but simply do not try. That is largely due to the students’ attitudes towards learning. Many simply do not care and misbehave in class. There are only a handful of students who really have the ‘drive’ to achieve, unless you are in a top private school. This is an intrinsic problem, a parental problem and a teacher problem.

    The curriculum does not focus on the fundamentals as much anymore. It somewhat does focus on the fundamentals during the early years but completely forgets it in later years. I was amazed to see this year, in Year 12, of how many students did not understand basic sentence structure, did not understand how to use contractions, did not understand how to use an apostrophe amongst many other issues. The English curriculum is also flawed because it focuses too much on creative ‘bs’ and not on the fundamentals that students require in the future.

  12. John Mc

    decrease equality of opportunity and reduce social cohesion. Voucher schemes are also likely to be expensive and lead
    to a widening of the resource gap between both government and non-government schools, and between wealthy and poor private schools.

    So, in short, even the Australia Institute has analysed vouchers and found they will increase educational opportunity and standards, allowing everybody to achieve their best. Naturally, they’re horrified.

  13. John Mc

    The parents do not remotely push their kids to strive to achieve their potential and do not set a culture at home that promotes learning

    Don’t jump to conclusions, Andrew. The Australia Institute has released a paper that shows this kind of home environment will decrease equality of opportunity and reduce social cohesion.

  14. .

    Yes John Mc.

    Numbers called me glib but fled like a Frenchman when I asked for evidence.

  15. Megan

    From Ben Jensen of the Grattan Institute:

    “There’s a clear message about some of our attitudes towards primary schooling, which has always been considered a lower tier of education than secondary education,” he said.

    “We need to look at having specialist teachers in literacy, maths and science in primary schools, not just secondary school.

    “We generally pay primary school teachers less, we don’t expect them to have high content knowledge, and we don’t give them the professional development they need.”

    I taught a class in 1972-76 in a disadvantaged area of inner Melbourne with few children with English as their first language. There were 36 in the class across 3 grade levels (grades 4, 5 and 6). As an example, several children that started in the group as fourth graders were teaching themselves Year 9 mathematics by the time they reached grade 6. We did that without any specialists and I worked my butt off making sure my content knowledge was way ahead of theirs.

    I recently had to move my entire library so we could paint the shelves. When I looked at the maths and English texts I used from that time, I knew with certainty that the current crop of tertiary students I work with would not be able to cope with them. The font is too small and the amount of text on the page is too dense for them to persist past page one.

  16. lotocoti

    Vouchers work, moron.

    Not if you believe social justice trumps literacy and numeracy.
    I know a year ten maths teacher who was “counselled” for offering to give up 2 lunch breaks a week to provide additional help for any of his students who thought they needed it.
    It would’ve disadvantaged those students who needed, but didn’t seek further assistance.
    Any improvement in class averages might reflect poorly on other teachers.

  17. Megan

    You and I are in furious agreement, Andrew!

  18. Andrew

    Don’t jump to conclusions, Andrew. The Australia Institute has released a paper that shows this kind of home environment will decrease equality of opportunity and reduce social cohesion.

    Rubbish! Those ‘academics’ should actually come into a classroom for once and experience the ‘real world’. Logically, do you really believe that a more disciplined environment at home, opposed to a lazy environment, is better at home? I am not saying that the students should have to focus on school 24/7 but more focus would improve the system. In fact, not creating a disciplined environment decreases equality of opportunity due to the fact that students are not giving themselves the best chance to get into the course they want and as a result the job they want.

  19. John Mc

    Andrew, that was sarcasm. Read my comment directly above that one.

  20. Megan

    Numbers called me glib but fled like a Frenchman when I asked for evidence.

    The Numerical Numpty should have fled. The state where he apparently was a school principal and where he continues to “educationally consult” was one of the worst performers. There was no way known he’d grow a backbone and take any responsibility for contributing to those outcomes.

  21. Andrew

    Sorry, John Mc. I didn’t read that comment. Often sarcasm flies straight in one ear and out the other when I am debating an issue. :D

  22. Des Deskperson

    Does anyone have any information on how many public school teachers are terminated for inefficiency, or fail to complete their probation, annually or over, say, a five year period for any Australian jurisdiction?

    I understand that most jurisdictions have legislation and procedures that enable inefficient teachers to be sacked, but I can’t readily find any actual information on how often, if at all, it actually happens.

    I’m mindful, however that the public sector generally is reluctant to take action against underperformers, not through any sense of compassion but because there is no pressure to do so (it’s only taxpayers’ money). I’d be surprised if the education arm of the public sector was much different.

  23. Andrew

    Another problem is the Australian Education Union. Many of their campaigns for ‘duds’ like Gonski are not very progressive like they seem to state, but in reality is rather regressive.

  24. John Mc

    Does anyone have any information on how many public school teachers are terminated for inefficiency, or fail to complete their probation, annually or over, say, a five year period for any Australian jurisdiction?

    This issue was solved through negotiations with the Education Union. Teachers are no longer ‘terminated’ in the traditional sense, that’s an old fashioned way of doing things that only continues in dinosaurs that refuse to modernise, e.g. the private sector. Teachers who are “competence challenged” are now promoted out of the position in order to enhance their capabilities elsewhere. Numbers could probably private some first-hand advice if you want more details.

  25. Rafe

    I know a year ten maths teacher who was “counselled” for offering to give up 2 lunch breaks a week to provide additional help for any of his students who thought they needed it.
    It would’ve disadvantaged those students who needed, but didn’t seek further assistance.

    Says it all. Ignore the ones who want help and favour the lazy.

    Come back Numbers, Sinc is leading on comments!

    Dang, I put multiple comments on his thread.

  26. H B Bear

    Poor old Lurch, out there apologising for yet another Prime Minister’s failures. At least they haven’t killed anyone this time, unlike the Pink Batts fiasco.

    You have to set the bar pretty low for the KRudd-Gillard governments.

  27. John Mc

    Poor old Lurch

    The walking cadaver?!! Did you see him run and pass a football at some school opening or something he was at yesterday or the day before? It looked like something out of a B-grade comedy movie where the politician has died at an inconvenient time and his staff have got the cadaver and and strung it up on fishing line so he could be present at the event!

  28. Chris

    Getting rid of structured, phonics-style learning and replacing it with classroom-less ‘research’ where each child learns at his/her own pace in many schools was and is a dumb decision.

    Having done the rounds of a few schools lately in preparation for my daughter starting next year I think the “phonics is gone” meme is a bit of furphy. They all said they use phonics when teaching children to learn to read. But they also use whole of language techniques because some children learn better with the former and others with the latter – which if true would not be surprising to me.

    Having started primary school in the late 70s I’m a victim of the no-grammar period. I learnt more about English grammar in my French classes than I did in the English ones.

    Does anyone have any information on how many public school teachers are terminated for inefficiency, or fail to complete their probation, annually or over, say, a five year period for any Australian jurisdiction?

    It would be interesting to compare that to private schools as well. I went to one of those “elite private schools” and whilst by all reports the teacher quality was higher than the public schools the only time I know of teachers being sacked was because of abuse (an older teacher who failed to change with the times when it came to what was allowed wrt physical discipline). There were certainly a few teachers around who were crap at their primary academic teaching roles but were kept on because they were good sports coaches (*sigh*).

    I’m all for a voucher system as long as those from disadvantaged backgrounds, or who have disabilities etc get larger than standard vouchers.

    There are only a handful of students who really have the ‘drive’ to achieve, unless you are in a top private school. This is an intrinsic problem, a parental problem and a teacher problem.

    There is certainly something to be said for having a critical mass of academically inclined students. When I did year 12 the vast majority of students were aiming to go to university. Academically selective public schools are a good thing for similar reasons.

    As an example, several children that started in the group as fourth graders were teaching themselves Year 9 mathematics by the time they reached grade 6. We did that without any specialists and I worked my butt off making sure my content knowledge was way ahead of theirs.

    I think the schools historically have often underestimated the capability of the smarter students. For example when I was in year 5 during the maths lessons the teacher let the top 4-5 maths students in the class leave the room with a year 10 textbook and just teach themselves. And it actually worked quite well. Its probably one example of why the modern strategy of letting children work at their own pace is better than the old fashioned very formalised classroom setting where the teacher stands out the front and everyone does the same work at the same time. The latter gets very boring for the capable students.

    This is a state responsibility and the Commonwealth should get out of the way

    It’s a state responsibility. But its also pretty clear that the states having been failing.

  29. johanna

    Warehousing older teenagers who don’t want to be there by raising the leaving age doesn’t help either. It creates discipline problems and dumbs down the content.

    When I was supervising graduate trainees in the APS, who were supposed to be the best and the brightest, I was amazed to find that people with first class honours in the humanities were unable to spell or to write a grammatical sentence. I actually used to run little grammar tutorials with some of them to teach the basics.

    It wasn’t their fault – they were smart and eager, but no-one ever bothered to teach them or correct them throughout nearly two decades of schooling.

  30. Keith

    When I was supervising graduate trainees in the APS, who were supposed to be the best and the brightest, I was amazed to find that people with first class honours in the humanities were unable to spell or to write a grammatical sentence.

    These people are supposedly on the fast track to become senior management PS. After their graduate stint, they make a beeline for the policy departments to enhance their career prospects. Now I understand why most policies are unintelligible these days.

  31. Jannie

    What a can of worms is this.

    Megan, yes yes yes. I had plenty of experience with of graduate research assistants who can barely hold a pen to write joined up words, and regard apostrophes and random capitals as wallpaper. But I am an apostrophe nazi.

    Andrew, you are remarkably literate and coherent for somebody who has ‘just completed year 12′. I hate to say this, but you could be used to demonstrate that the system is working.

  32. Poor Old Rafe

    There are still good teachers in the system, there are good students and there are parents who do the right thing as well. As someone said of a notoriously corrupt police force, “there are some good apples in every barrel”.

  33. John Mc

    True, but on the balance of probabilities all three of these things never come together sufficiently to achieve critical mass if you just go with the flow and accept what your told.

  34. Token

    The problems with the education system in Australia are the lazy culture within the classrooms, the poor attitude of students towards school and a poor curriculum.

    Zing.

  35. Des Deskperson

    ‘When I was supervising graduate trainees in the APS, who were supposed to be the best and the brightest’

    Johanna, while I agree with your overall point, I’m not sure that APS grads are necessarily the best and the brightest.

    APS graduate intake tends to be skewed toward grads from the ANU and the University of Canberra. This is a reflection of geography – most grads are recruited to agency central offices in Canberra – and of the fact that the APS is now, to some extent at least, an hereditary caste.

    The 2012 ATAR cutoffs for most humanities courses at ANU were in the low eighties. The cutoff for almost all courses at UC was around 65, so the APS gets a lot of mediocrities and a few downright dullards.

  36. True on the good ones but the last OECD report I read on Australian from about 2007 was on how to force the reluctant principals to give up pushing the transmission of knowledge. Just wellbeing and basic skills.

    The private schools in Australia have been quite infiltrated because of the presence of the vouchers. At one point I linked to an August conference.

    On phonics, there is very little but the teachers do not want to admit it. Marie Clay of New Zealand has caused great lietracvy damage all over the world but she has been very influential in Australia. The argument over reading briefly is that an abstract mind to some degree that can play out mental scenarios and weigh possibilities is close to an inevitable consequence of learning the phonetic symbol system we call reading. So if you are a Statist Schemer or wish to create a career enabling them, you do not want to teach phonetic reading.

    Not only do you limit ability to conceptualize, you limit the access to info at the source. No need to censor if no one is likely to bother.

    And that succinctly is the impetus behind both the reading and the math wars. Symbol systems disconnected to physical reality foster an independent mind.

  37. Poor Old Rafe

    Neck and neck with Sinc. Come on fellas, we can do it!

  38. johanna

    Des, you may be right in the overall sense, but I was working in a policy area in PM&C, and believe me, these kids were the cream of the crop. They were very bright and very diligent, came from all over the country, but had simply never been formally taught grammar and spelling.

  39. Andrew

    Andrew, you are remarkably literate and coherent for somebody who has ‘just completed year 12′. I hate to say this, but you could be used to demonstrate that the system is working.

    Thanks for your kind words, Jannie. I will be receiving my marks next Monday. The system worked for me because I put my education as my number 1 priority, had a hard working attitude and actually thought for myself. Unfortunately, many students do not have this attitude. I think personal responsibility in all aspects of life is something that leads to success, not just relying on others to spoon feed you information. This ‘spoon feeding’ attitude leads to gullible leftists within our education system as students seem to believe whatever their teacher tells them to do.

  40. Megan

    They were very bright and very diligent, came from all over the country, but had simply never been formally taught grammar and spelling.

    Had exactly the same experience when I was running graduate programs in the corporate space. It’s not that they are dumb but because they have not been properly taught.

    IMHO, the whole language approach is flawed because it attempts to build a pyramid on its point. Reading, first and foremost, is a decoding activity and without putting together the building blocks of phonics there is no foundation on which to build.

  41. Jannie

    There are some good apples in every barrel. That’s Good Rafe, it makes evolution possible.

  42. boy on a bike

    The dirty little secret is that high schools are not really warehousing teenagers who don’t want to be there. When the new school leaving restrictions were introduced, no real effort was made to ensure that those who were going to leave at the end of year 10 actually turned up for years 11 and 12.

    For instance – no increase in truancy officers.

    I asked our Principal at a P&C meeting if the teachers were having discipline problems with those forced to stay.

    They laughed, and said, “No – because none of them showed up after the first day of year 11, and no one is looking for them”. The teachers, facing years of having to cope with angry little sh*ts, breathed a sigh of relief and got on with teaching those that want to be there.

    If they want to hide it, they get the kids to turn up and sign in, and then they don’t give a bugger if they shoot through – there are no further checks during the day to ensure the kids are actually still on the grounds.

  43. johanna

    boy, I think it varies from place to place.

    Here in the Democratic People’s Republic of the ACT, my friends who are parents of high schoolers, or teachers, tell me that there are enough unwilling pupils in the senior years to pose significant problems in class. It only takes a few clowns or thugs to muck up the lesson for everyone else.

  44. Des Deskperson

    ‘I was working in a policy area in PM&C’

    Good point. Treasury and DFAT would attract similar levels of grads. Line agencies, on the other hand, tend to get a mixed bag at best and some are finding that staff recruited through ordinary entry level selection are smarter, more diligent and in some cases better qualified that those attracted, selected and trained through expensive graduate recruitment programs.

  45. Alice

    Megan says

    “Reading, first and foremost, is a decoding activity and without putting together the building blocks of phonics there is no foundation on which to build.”

    Megan that is at the heart of the matter of poor grammar that appears in undergrad uni students.
    Not enough learning to spell properly (ha you all may say given my shocking spelling in ere.. but I dont have a spelling problem – I have an eye hand co-ordination problem with a keyboard and fast two finger typing and simply impatience).

    Also not enough emphasis on punctuation in schools. The number of undergrads who write and write and write and end up with a garbled paragraph punctuated with dashes or “ands” instead of full stops or commas is quite astonishing.

    The roots of this problem lies in the “whole language” approach to learning to spell c70s – oh so popular when it was decided that children were being “insulted” or “taught to be little parrots” for reciting from a list of phonetic words (with pictures) eg

    cat
    mat
    sat
    rat
    bat
    hat

    As they should be still be doing.
    The “whole language approach to spelling” gave me the horors when my son was in kindy and he was being given sheets of paper showing pictures of a beach, sand, umbrellas, balls, a sun, a towel etc

    then a list of these unrelated words and told to write them in the boxes next to the pictures.
    Enough for me tio run to the headmaster and say “this isnt good enough”. I was told way back then “I agree with you but there are still some materials like that being recycled and still in use but we plan to move back to phonetics.” They didnt. It did not change.

    What a ridiculous way to go about building an understanding of english words. Yes, as someone said above they need to know the sounds first, be able to identify the sounds of syllables etc. They need the building blocks not this haphazard whole languange approach.

    It is utter garbage and some countries have chucked it out.

  46. fled like a Frenchman

    Some of us are out earning a living (in schools by the way).
    There is no proven connection between the way schools are funded and educational outcomes.

    There is no doubt that, while factors underpinning the movement to self-managing schools are many and varied, there has always been an expectation that they will make a contribution to improved outcomes for students. There is also no doubt that evidence of a direct cause-and-effect relationship between self-management and improved outcomes is minimal. This is understandable given that few initiatives in self-management have been linked in a systematic way to what occurs in classrooms in manner that is likely to impact on learning. (Caldwell 1998, p. 38)

    This was proved when the Coalition in Queensland introduced the “Leading Schools” programme in 1996-97.

  47. .

    There is no proven connection between the way schools are funded and educational outcomes.

    Before you tried to link the funding model with poorer outcomes.

    Give it up you ratbag.

  48. What’s that stink?
    Noname’s here…….

  49. .

    .
    12 Dec 12 at 9:53 am

    Numbers called me glib but fled like a Frenchman when I asked for evidence.

    1735099
    12 Dec 12 at 8:55 am

    The main risks are that vouchers would lower the average level of educational achievement

    1735099
    12 Dec 12 at 7:56 pm

    There is no proven connection between the way schools are funded and educational outcomes.

    So basically numbers has admitted The Australia Institute’s study is bullshit and fear mongering.

  50. @Noname
    Who can’t tell the difference between a risk and a finding.
    There’s that stink again……

  51. .

    That would still mean the study by TAI is bullshit.

    Fuckhead.

  52. @Noname
    You made the glib statement that vouchers were the solution. The AI study is not supportive of that, nor is any of the available research. You make a statement – you need to back it up.
    If you lack the cojones to do that, crawl back under your log.

  53. .

    You quoted two studies, one by a left leaning Government which says “nada” and a left wing think tank with no empirical substance.

    Bullshit.

    Just shut up you craven bloody thief.

    http://theconversation.edu.au/us-elections-do-school-vouchers-work-9927

    Glenn Altschuler is the Vice President for University Relations, Dean of the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, and The Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University.

    At first blush, studies of voucher recipients reveal some impressive results. A Brookings Institution, Harvard University, analysis of New York City students who used vouchers in elementary school in the 1990s found little or no overall impact on college enrolment, except for a significant increase of 24% for African-Americans.

    Washington D.C. students who used their voucher graduated from high school at a 91% rate – more than 20% higher than those who expressed interest in the program but did not receive a scholarship and more than 30% higher than the rate in the D.C. public schools. Students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program had a 76.6% on-time high school graduation rate – 7.2% higher than the rate in the public schools.

    Vouchers are also more responsive to student needs, as is private education:

    http://cepa.stanford.edu/content/how-do-vouchers-work-evidence-colombia

    How do vouchers work? Evidence from Colombia

    Author/s:
    Eric P. Bettinger, Michael Kremer, Juan Saavedra
    Year of Publication:
    2010
    Publication:
    Economic Journal
    Abstract:

    Some voucher skeptics argue that even if school vouchers benefit recipients, they do so by improving their peer groups at the expense of others’, and if so, there may be no net benefit to society as a whole. A necessary condition for this argument is that voucher recipients have more desirable peers than they otherwise would have. We take advantage of an educational voucher program in Colombia, for which spots were allocated by lottery, to identify a set of applicants for whom winning the voucher did not lead to attending schools with peers with superior observable characteristics. In particular, we focus on those who applied to vocational private schools. In this population, lottery losers rather than winners were more likely to attend academic secondary schools. Despite this, we find that even in this population, lottery winners had better educational outcomes, including higher graduation rates and reading test scores. This casts doubt on the argument that voucher effects operate entirely through improving the set of peers available to recipients. One hypothesis is that private vocational schools are much better than public ones at adjusting to the demands of the labor market. Consistent with this hypothesis, private vocational schools are overwhelming concentrated in teaching skills preparing students for Colombia’s rapidly growing service sector whereas public vocational schools are much more likely to teach industrial curricula which prepare students for more traditional blue-collar positions.

  54. The Bettinger, Kremer and Saavedra study doesn’t make a finding based on any measurable data. It puts a hypothesis, just as you do.
    In the first study, the vague statement “little or no overall impact” is telling.
    The apparent improvement for African-American kids is a product of access, not enhancement.
    Vouchers had a following in the 1990s in the US, but didn’t move beyond the point of being a passing fashion. Charter schools are now the flavour of the month, but again the evidence is illusory.
    What makes a difference to results is the enthusiasm,energy and persistence of the individual teacher. A supportive and inspiring principal (leader – not manager) is critical.

  55. .

    The Bettinger, Kremer and Saavedra study doesn’t make a finding based on any measurable data.

    Really?

    Evidence from Colombia

    So they made it up did they?

    Charter schools are now the flavour of the month, but again the evidence is illusory.

    You are a self aggrandising liar. You ask for evidence and cast judgment on empirical studies prematurely.

  56. .

    Here is a presentation of empirical evidence antecedant to the Bettinger, Krema and Saaverda paper.

    http://www.powershow.com/view/128b3-OTNkY/How_do_Vouchers_Work_Evidence_from_Colombia_powerpoint_ppt_presentation

    Slides 20-29 are of a model, data issues and empirical evidence.

    In other words, you’re full of shit, numbers.

    Yet you have the temerity to tell others “to crawl back down their holes” for “being glib”.

    The Bettinger, Kremer and Saavedra study doesn’t make a finding based on any measurable data. It puts a hypothesis, just as you do.

    Christ you’re a dishonest shitbag.

    Just fuck off you arseclown.

  57. Alice

    What’s that stink?
    Noname’s here…….

    ROFL

  58. .

    You’re a silly old lady Alice with two fake careers.

  59. Alice
    12 Dec 12 at 10:15 pm

    Fuck off, catfish. Pack up your fake backstory and peddle it elsewhere.

  60. Alice

    ha ha no name…..here you are again swearing (as usual) at someone.

    Is there anyone you like here?

    Only two real careers? (more than that Dot – I have also bought and sold real estate in my spare time)
    Some of us know how to run fast to and at work unlike fake econ phd students.

    Anyway get back to abusing 1735099 for your entertainment tonight. Its my bedtime.

  61. Alice

    Oh pardon me but here is sdoggie who has bounded into the attack in defence of the pack mate no name.

    Sdog – maybe its you responsible for the stink. Did you leave a dog dropping in here?

  62. .

    It sure is. If you expect us to believe you were a nurse when you don’t know what the blood brain barrier is, I’m sure you need plenty of rest to build up your property portfolio – on Farmville.

  63. Alice

    Well beats switching from honours undergrad econ student to econ phd from day to day no name.
    Or switching from working to not working but being satisfied with little money while you complete the “phd”

    You are the fake around here.

  64. Alice

    Its you who has the problem with people who have had multiple careers Dot, not anyone else and thats because you arent even old enbough to have had one yet.

  65. Alice

    Anyway – speaking of multiple careers you are keeping me from my book rich kids.
    So good night Dot (and could someone clean up the mess sdog left behind?)

  66. You made a very specific claim about your background, and you just happened to do it on a blog where someone reading had the background to be able to demolish that claim. You were not a specialist nurse in a blood cancer unit. You are a catfish who is becoming ever more noisome as you go off.

  67. Charter schools are now the flavour of the month [in the USA], but again the evidence is illusory.

    What does that even mean?

  68. Poor Old Rafe

    Great work team, with Alice and Numbers back we will kill Sinc! Eat our dust Birthday Boy!

    Numbers, it is not the source of funding that matters as much as the capacity of the principal to actually run the school effectively. That is a worldwide research finding.

    On the topic of retention rates, someone in NSW is excited that our retention rate has improved this year, big deal. As some have pointed out, many of the long stayers are a waste of space or worse. Keeps them off the dole but. Imagine the unemployment rate if they were counted along with bogus disability cases.

  69. Gab

    with Alice and Numbers back we will kill Sinc!

    Death threat.

  70. @Poor Old Rafe
    The disconnect between funding souce and results (I avoid the term “outcomes”) is precisely my point. The knee-jerk responses from many posting here trying to politicize the issue is part of the problem.
    After 40 years in school education (20 of them as a principal) I learned long ago that when any issue relating to education is gazumped by politicians, all reason and common sense is terminated.
    Generally, schools prosper despite, rather than because of, political initiatives.

  71. Rafe

    Yes possibly because the political initiatives in our lifetime have been generally driven by leftwing social engineers. An exception was the science labs program under Menzies in the 1960s, maybe I am biased because our school was the second cab off the rank:)

    Do you have an informed view of the Metherill changes in NSW? Possibly another exception.

  72. .

    Generally, schools prosper despite, rather than because of, political initiatives.

    Which is what vouchers and charter schools would do, if the Government kept away from the curriculum.

    Which you don’t support despite evidence you demanded, contrary to you holding a duplicitous view on the matter and and your further duplicity regarding evidence to back up assertions.

    You really are a confused, tribalist muppet, numbers.

  73. Which is what vouchers and charter schools would do

    No – they would make no bloody difference. You continue to miss the point. You really should get out more.

  74. .

    Washington D.C. students who used their voucher graduated from high school at a 91% rate – more than 20% higher than those who expressed interest in the program but did not receive a scholarship and more than 30% higher than the rate in the D.C. public schools. Students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program had a 76.6% on-time high school graduation rate – 7.2% higher than the rate in the public schools.

    …numbers says they “make no bloody difference”.

    Just shut up you old fool.

  75. sdog

    Washington D.C. students who used their voucher graduated from high school at a 91% rate – more than 20% higher than those who expressed interest in the program but did not receive a scholarship and more than 30% higher than the rate in the D.C. public schools.

    It’s unfair for urban underclass blacks to be able to escape their failing local schools and get a chance at launching themselves into a brighter, more hopeful future. Because, “social justice.”

  76. sdog

    Bronco Bama likes school choice. That’s why he chose to remove his kids first from Chicago’s failed school system and then from DC’s. If other black parents would like the same option but don’t have the big bucks to do so, then their children deserve the substandard educations they’ve just been doomed to.

  77. sdog

    Also, if anyone here has not yet seen the doco “Waiting for Superman” (from the director of “An Inconvenient Truth”, but don’t let that put you off) put that in your Netflix queue for the weekend. Seriously.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1566648/
    http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Superman-Geoffrey-Canada/dp/B003Q6D28C

  78. Do you have an informed view of the Metherill changes in NSW?

    No. I am more familiar with the Queensland scene. (44 years in schools across all sectors, locations as varied as Mt Isa, Brisbane, Longreach, Townsville and Roma, and jobs as varied as teacher, principal, regional manager, and these days, part time consultant).

    A reading of Metherill’s changes indicates to me that they conform generally to a pattern at the time where substantial recognition was given to inclusion, parental input, and catering for diversity.
    A quick perusal of the objects of the act makes that clear –

    The Objects for administration of this Act (Part 2, S. 6) state Parliament’s intention for “every person concerned with administration of this Act or of children of school-age” to have regard to the following:

    assisting each child to achieve his or her educational potential;
    promotion of a high standard of education in government schools which is provided free of charge for instruction and without discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, or religion;
    encouraging innovation and diversity within and among schools;
    provision of an education for children that gives them access to opportunities for further study, work or training;
    mitigating educational disadvantages arising from the child’s gender or from geographic, economic, social, cultural, lingual or other causes;
    provision of an education for Aboriginal children that has regard to their special needs;
    development of an understanding of Aboriginal history and culture by all children;
    provision of an education for children from non-English speaking backgrounds that has regard to their special needs;.
    recognition of the special problems of rural communities, particularly small and isolated communities;
    provision of opportunities to children with special abilities;
    provision of special educational assistance to children with disabilities;
    development of a teaching staff that is skilled, dedicated and professional;
    provision of opportunities for parents to participate in the education of their children;
    provision of an education for children that promotes family and community values.

    It is not a political statement, and all the more valuable because of that.
    To me, the amusing aspect of this discussion is the quite balmy hindsight view of many on the Right that there was some vast conspiracy to steer school education to the Left during this stage of our history.
    These reforms were essentially a reflection of changing social expectations of schooling. They were imposed on education bureaucracies, not driven by them.

  79. Token

    Which is what vouchers and charter schools would do, if the Government kept away from the curriculum.

    Wow, are you saying there may be a way to allow schools to get funding in a way that is based upon the satisfaction of the true customers (parents/children) instead of the whims and political desires of the dominant stakeholders (government/ever sprawling education bureaucracy)?

    Someone who was a teacher for 40 years and a principle for 20 years would instantly see how that would assist when developing operating & capital budgets and allocating resources.

  80. and a principle (sic)

    I was a principal with principles.
    The issue of curriculum is a total red herring. Curriculum content (the what) is far less important in the twenty first century, than curriculum style (the how).
    Put simply, primary education should be about skill acquisition and secondary education about skill application.

  81. Noname. It is apparent that you haven’t read the paper you cited, or if you have, you haven’t understood it.
    Here is the conclusion in full -

    In this paper, we examined a subpopulation in which voucher winners do not join peers of higher
    observable quality. Among applicants to vocational schools, voucher winners stayed in vocational schools,
    while voucher losers were more likely to transfer into academic schools. Across a variety of measures,
    voucher winners who had applied to vocational schools prior to the lottery attended schools with no higher
    and indeed often with lower observable peer quality as compared to voucher losers. Yet voucher winners in
    this population had significantly better outcomes than voucher losers. They are more likely to stay in private school, more likely to finish eighth grade, and less likely to repeat a grade. Furthermore, voucher winners are more likely to take the college entrance exam, and their test scores are between 1/3 and 2/3 of a standard deviation higher than losers. This suggests that, at least in this population, vouchers are not merely a zerosum game in which benefits to voucher participants are offset by losses to non-participants. There are multiple channels that can explain the voucher effect. We find some suggestive evidence that the voucher created economic incentives which were more salient to students who applied to vocational schools.
    Students may have responded to these incentives to stay in school. Another important channel of impact in
    this population may be from private schools greater nimbleness in adapting to labor market needs.

    They compared results for students who had won vouchers in a lottery with those who hadn’t. They were not comparing school systems where vouchers were used with school systems where conventional funding sources applied.
    Until you can show us such a comparison you’re talking through your arse (again or still).

  82. .

    They were not comparing school systems where vouchers were used with school systems where conventional funding sources applied.

    So vouchers work even in the public system. You say the funding source doesn’t matter.

    You really are a self aggrandising idiot. Keep shifting the goalposts, dickhead. Previously you asserted they did no empirical work. You lied, they have statistical modelling of the data.

    You have some fucking gall demanding empirical evidence, not reading a paper and asserting it has no empirical evidence behind it and then not even admitting you were wrong.

    You ignore their abstract. The private sector is more responsive.

    You’re just a dishonest shitbag.

  83. Rafe

    @10.26

    A reading of Metherill’s changes indicates to me that they conform generally to a pattern at the time where substantial recognition was given to inclusion, parental input, and catering for diversity.
    A quick perusal of the objects of the act makes that clear –

    The Metherill reforms were passionately and bitterly opposed by the teachers union, to the point of strike action, with a flying squad of activists on duty to disrupt any public appearance by the minister. I was on a P&C at the time and had a front row seat at the drama.

  84. Jarrah

    “the doco “Waiting for Superman””

    The ‘failure factories’ were scary.

  85. The Metherill reforms were passionately and bitterly opposed by the teachers union, to the point of strike action,

    So? What’s your point?
    Most of this kind of industrial action is white noise. I’ve been a member of the QTU since 1968. I don’t necessarily agree with everything the union does – they treated me very shabbily when I returned from Vietnam in 1971 and wasn’t paid because the Department had lost my documents. When I told them I was an ex-soldier I was told to get knotted.
    Having said that, on the whole, they have treated me well for those 44 years and any teacher not a member has rocks in his/her head given the litigious nature of the work environment these days.
    The influence of the Unions is another Rightwing meme that has little basis in reality. The QTU is an efficient supportive organisation that supports its members well. It has very little political clout.

  86. You’re just a dishonest shitbag.

    When you’ve grown up a bit I’ll consider resonding to your posts.
    Until then, like most attention seeking juveniles, you’re best ignored….

  87. .

    You’ve been hammered numbers, you dishonest shitbag, I don’t give two fucks about what you think of me.

    “Attention seeking juveniles”

    Yes, like people who use their service number as a handle to flog a book they wrote.

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