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Fixing the american education system [Jul. 6th, 2006|08:56 pm]
ball_slap
[mood |contemplativecontemplative]

In my previous education class, I mentioned how a national average of $28,000 for teachers was adequate. The reasoning behind that is a teacher requires a bachelor degree to start and since a first year teacher is basically in an entry level position, they are paid in accordance with other professions at entry level. The solution to this problem as well as a teacher shortage actually can come in a different way.

As part of the No Child Left Behind initiative of 2001, the government pushed all the states into a high-stakes testing model. Under this model, everything from school funding to teacher bonuses and pay, to who is responsible for running the school is determined by student performance on a standardized test. Many argue though that it is not fair to the teachers to base their bonuses on their student’s performance on a standardized test alone. Additionally, school administrators argue that it is wrong to grade the school on the one test. The solution to this lies in math.

There is a concept in mathematics in that the more results you are given, the more accurate the statistical results will be. An example of this it if you have two apples and one has a worm in it, it is easy to say that half the apples picked have worms whereas if you have 200 apples and there are only 3 apples with worms, the percentage of worm infested apples is far more accurate than the percentage achieved from the initial two apples.

So how does this answer the problems with high-stakes testing? The answer is simple: test the teachers. Make it so that the teachers are also required to take a standardized test every year along with the students. That way, the teacher’s effectiveness is gauged not only by the student’s performance on the test, but the teachers as well. The result could be some form of composite score gathered from the students in the class against the teachers score. This would provide a better telling of the effectiveness of that teacher in conveying information and teaching the students. Another of the problems I mentioned previously is pay and a teacher shortage.

I grouped the problems with pay and a teacher shortage together purposely. In reality, the two are very synonymous. There is a shortage of good teachers because the pay is insufficient for the level of education they must attain to stand in front of a classroom. The problem with that is in order to start at the entry level, you need a degree. In educational terms, this is called educational inflation (Where the prerequisite for a job increase, but the work does not). There is a new solution to this pay issue as well as a teacher shortage found within the no child left behind act. The solution is to no longer require a collegiate degree for teachers.

The problem with a teacher shortage can be easily addressed by changing the certification requirements to allow for people without collegiate degrees to teach by passing a subject area test, a general knowledge test, and a classroom management and skills test. Then they can enter the system on a per-year basis. Their contracts are renewed based on the student performance on the standardized tests when compared to their performance. Since the teachers are teaching the test anyways, no special skills are really required. Most the extra training they would need could be provided in a couple training courses before school starts in a couple workshop sessions.

In adopting a process like this, an entry level position is made to incorporate the lower pay level. Tenure and multi-year contracts can be given to teachers who have degrees, as well as higher pay levels. Most teachers would not be opposed to obtaining raises based on their effectiveness in teaching subjects since it can be shown as a mathematical result of the standardized test.

There is even more to this concept that I can write and I will include that in future posts.
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stupid education system [Jul. 6th, 2006|02:46 am]
ball_slap
[mood |boredbored]

So its late and I am bored. I will take this as an opportunity to ramble about the state of American Education!

In the 1800's education served one purpose; to train new workers. In order to reflect this, schools taught basic skills needed to enter the workplace as a factory worker. Since then, American education has changed very little. Policies continue to be made in order to better the citizens but still, the main purpose of education is to train blue collar workers.

In modern times, America has shifted its stance economically. While we still do have great amounts of blue collar jobs still, we also have a great amount of white collar jobs. More importantly than that though, is most jobs in the US are actually white collar jobs. Another type of work that is up and coming as needing vast amounts for the workforce are service related jobs. The problem that presents itself with education is that it is still functioning as if to train blue collar workers and not white collars in spite of the fact that there is a greater number of white collar and service oriented jobs in the US today than blue collar thanks in part to outsourcing.

At present, the American teacher is treated like a second class citizen in this country. This is related to the pay scheme, but I think it is also related to vocabulary and a corner that academics have painted themselves into. A great place to begin would be simple vocabulary differences.

When a new teacher applies for a teaching position, one thing that is asked commonly is “What is your educational philosophy”. When one breaks down the term Educational Philosophy, it basically sounds like one is being asked what their concept of teaching is. This answer is mostly true. In reality, the education philosophy is a set of ideas the teacher uses to determine how they will go about doing things in their classroom. Additionally, it reflects what goals and ideas they have for how the students should be learning. In the business community, these concepts are Mission Statements and Vision Statements. The mission statement being the method for achieving the goals set out in the vision statement. When analyzing just the terms Education Philosophy and Mission Statement and Vision Statement, it is pretty easy to realize the differences and confusion most outside the education world have. A philosophy is an idea that is not tangible and openly negotiable and constantly discussed and argued about, whereas a statement is definitive. It is this point that throws most in the business world off. They want definitive solutions to the problems of poor test scores and inadequate student training, but instead are faced with strings of concepts and philosophies that change yearly.

The lexicological differences are just the beginning of the problems that face education. In one of my education classes, I read a statement that sent the business side of my head a buzz with anger. The statement was “Educators cheer the new teacher shortages that have been rampant across the country because it allows them to change the curriculum used to train teachers”. What that translates to is as follows: People who run teacher certification programs take advantage of teacher shortages as a way to increase course loads of students and further justify their jobs. Unfortunately, the people who actually run the school systems (elected officials) and their supporters (business leaders) do not see eye-to-eye with educators in this concept. Instead, they see the teacher shortages as a real problem that needs a definitive solution. To them, the answer is to open up more outlets to achieve certification. In many states across the US, this has meant that certification is an easy 3 test process if one has a bachelor’s degree in any subject. This solution bypasses the colleges of education completely.

This leads to the real problem with the American Education system. I feel that the true cause of the problems across the US are not the school boards, are not the students, and even are not the teachers but instead are the colleges which train teachers. These educators get their heads caught up in an academic bubble and they fail to see reality. So below, I am throwing grammar into the wind and listing solutions and problems:

Problem: not enough teachers
Their Solution: create more classes for certification and education degrees because it allows for better trained teachers to enter the workplace
Real Solution: Consolidate all the certification classes into only a couple courses beyond any other degree program to allow for quick student turnover rates. More students would go for certification if it were only 2 or 3 classes beyond any other degree simply to take education as a crutch in the very competitive job market.

Problem: Poor standardized test scores
Their Solution: increase teacher training, elongate the school day, start school earlier, make teachers teach the test.
Real Solution: The school’s rating, funding, and teacher pay is all determined by the student’s performance on tests. The real solution, which would offer more means of measurement and a better overall assessment of a school’s programs, is to test the teachers. The whole concept of high-stakes testing is to rate the teacher’s performance based on that of their students. This is the truth, even though many do not see it. If teachers are tested on their knowledge of subject areas on a yearly basis, then they are forced to be more on top of their game.

I can go on for hours on this subject matter, but it is 3:30am and I think this is a good point to stop.
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Titties!!! [Jul. 2nd, 2006|01:54 pm]
ball_slap
[mood |satisfiedsatisfied]

So last night I went to a friend of mine's Bachelor Party. He rented a hotel room over on South Beach and filled it with Liquor. The drinking began at roughly 4pm and lasted until roughly 11pm when we decided to go to a strip club. The club we chose was Tootsies.. perhaps one of the biggest strip clubs I have ever been in. They advertise 40,000 square feet... I belive it. Lots and lots of nudity... it was great. More importantly though, I was able to be aroung my friends that I don't usually hang around with because of school or work. I really miss being around that group.
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measurement and evaluation = statistics in education [Jun. 29th, 2006|07:57 pm]
ball_slap
[mood |thirstythirsty]

So yesterday the university finally let me pay for my class. I would be happy about that if I weren't out around $300 now.

Today was my first class of this term. It was somewhat interesting. The class is called "Measurement and Evalutation in Education". Now when you hear that, you would assume that the class is all about testing and grading and interpreting test scores. That is what the class actually is about. So far, the entire first day of class featured an hour and a half discussion of statistics and the normal probability curve used to give percentile rankings and rate students on tests.

What I found was interesting is that the class had roughly 50 students at the begining, but only 25 at the end. I heard many around me complaining that "This has nothing to do with education" or "Why should I learn statistics? I am going to teach elementary". Those people then stood up and walked out. This sort of thing baffles me as someone who pays tuition. How can someone pay for a class and then walk out based on a nieve and nearsighted assumption?

my assessment: people are stupid.

On another note, I just had some great garlic rolls. They are all garlicy and delicious. I had them about an hour ago, brushed my teeth twice, used mouthwash three times, and I can still taste garlic.
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they changed the time and date AGAIN?!?! [Jun. 28th, 2006|01:06 pm]
ball_slap
[mood |surprisedsurprised]

So I log onto the University Web registration thingy to make sure I still can't pay my tuition. Same deal as the previous two days. I then went to check my status in the class and discovered that they changed the date of the class!! Now instead of Mondays and Wednesdays, the class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the same time (5-7:40pm). While I am dissapointed that they are still changing class data at this point, I am relived that I don't have to go to class tonight... more time for Guild Wars I guess.
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Adventures in Cyclicar Redundancy Part 2: the search for more money [Jun. 27th, 2006|01:13 pm]
ball_slap
[mood |disappointeddisappointed]

so yeah, I got a call today from the woman in the Cashier's office who is helping me. She tells me that everything is good and to try to pay... everything was not good and I am still not paid. I called her back and told her. I was informed that now they have the entire peoplesoft conversion and adaptation team working on resolving this problem because since yesterday, over 20 other students have it as well. Since tuition is due today for summer B, I suspect more with the same problems will come out of the woodwork.

So here's the recap:
Me: 1 (just because I can hold onto the money a couple days longer)
Cashier's office: 0 (because they don't have my money and can't figure out the problem)
Peoplesoft team: -784156189456145789236045927365239475 (I just hate the system that much, they lose many points)
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Cyclicar Redundancy and the education process [Jun. 26th, 2006|03:04 pm]
ball_slap
[mood |annoyedannoyed]

So I have noticed that I am using this journal to post about some personal issues and situations that effect me. I find this especially ironic since I decided to start a journal not to post these things, but to read what others have posted! Today was one of those days where something happened that warrented writing about it.

So for the past week or so I have been trying to register for a class during the summer B tearm (June though August). I was finally able to get into the class I needed, but when I went to pay something came up. I logged into the system and the credit card payment system I needed to get into did not work. I then tried to get into the other financial sections of the University's student registration system and was greeted with errors stating that my tuition had not been calculated because a module was missing or something.

Today, I tried again and since the deadline is tommorrow, I decided to try and go in to straighten the whole situation out. My mother and I went to lunch at 11 and finished at 12. We then went into the building hosting the cashier's office. I waited in line for about 20 minutes before I was finally helped. They said that there was a problem with my account and I needed to discuss the matter with the Bursars office. I walked over there and stood in line for another 30 minutes before they said "You need to go do that through a kiosk". So I walked over to a Kiosk and had the same problems I had at home (The kiosks just use a web browser so I figured as much). So I went back to the Bursars office and they told me that I was doing something wrong and that they would show me how to work the system. I demostrated my profficiency and then they realised that their system was having problems! They then sent me the UTS (University Technical Systems or something) to tell them there was something wrong with the payment system.

I went to the 4th floor of the building where there Bursar's office sent me. There was nobody there, so I was forced to call them. They told me I had to go to the Kiosk again and tell them what the error was. I went back down to the kiosk on the first floor and tried it with the same errors. I read the errors to them and they replied that it was something with the cashier's office and that I needed to go there to resolve the situation. The atypical circle was now complete. At FIU, when you go to get something done, they usually refer you to another office and that office refers you to yet another and then yet another until you finally end up back at the original office you went to.

So I got to the cashier's office once again and this time I recognized one of the girls behind the counter as one of the people from one of the classes I had just finished. I stood in line waiting and as I was waiting, I told her my dilemma. She got me in touch with another woman from the office and she said "You need to go to the Kiosk for that!". Now that I was beginning my second round of redundancy, I told her that I had already gone through the process. She saw the error and said "I have no clue what that is... Lets go to the registrars office and see if they know!". Now in my head I am thinking "oh great another cycle that will lead me back to the cashier's office begins!!!". We go in and we get to go to the office of one of the people in the registrars rather than waiting in yet another line for help. She checked my records and I was only needing to pay for my classes. I told her I wanted to pay with credit card but the system was spitting out errors every time I tried to make a payment.

She saw the problem I was facing and couldn't find a solution in the book of errors she had. She then called one of the other offices, where they told her that it had to do with my taking classes in summer of 2004. That was the year they converted from a system called Legacy to the peoplesoft based system in place today. I registered for my classes in legacy that term instead of peoplesoft because I could not access peoplesoft because they had botched my birthday and I could not log in. The solution that was suggested was to delete the classes and make it appear that I had not taken classes that term and then add them back in later. This did not fix the problem though.

So now I had been at FIU for over two and a half hours and the problem was still in place. They finally said that they were going to add a tag to my records in the cashier's office and allow me to take the class I registered for and pay late because they were the ones with the problem and not me. who would have though it would be such a problem for someone to take money being thrown at them!

Personally, I hate how every simple thing is such and ordeal and how instead of admitting that they had a mistake, they send people around to different offices. What they don't realize is that instead of redistributing the work and making their jobs easier, it makes them look incompetant! Even more, by sending the person with the problem to other offices, it pisses them off and makes your office seem even more dumb!

I think I will save the whole birthday ordeal for another post.
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blah [Jun. 25th, 2006|06:26 pm]
ball_slap
I don't know whats wrong with me really. Today, I woke up and I wasn't really "With it" and so far that feeling has been with me the entire day. I don't know what it is, but I really feel down for no apearent reason...
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observations and ponderances [Jun. 23rd, 2006|05:33 pm]
ball_slap
So today Miami is abuzz over several different things...

The Miami Heat won the NBA championship. This is something that is great for the community. From my perspective, it was great fun watching that last game at a local resteraunt. It is things like that which bring people together to celebrate and support. During the last couple minutes, everyone was on their feet cheering and close to one another cheering. When the game ended and the Heat won, people hugged one another... even people who had never met previously. It is this aspect of sports that I truly respect. Today in Miami, the celebration was massive as a parade was held in downtown Miami before an estimated crowd of over 200,000 people. Baracades were broken down when Shaq jumped down from the truck to greet fans, but all in all it was pretty uneventful. Props to my city there.

On a more negative and yet not so negative note, several people were arrested yesterday as being suspected terrorists. Appearantly they were planning on bombing the Sears Tower in Chicago as well as the federal courthouse in downtown Miami, and a couple other sites locally. Personally, I am not really bothered by this. More importantly, I think it further gains my support of local law enforcement for catching these people before anything could happen. We have great law enforcement down here (unless they try to give me tickets for speeding).

On to slightly more personal things...

Things are pretty lonely here. I mean my mother is here during the day and all, but it just isn't the same as my peers. I greatly enjoy being with people, but haven't had the opportunity to lately. All my best friends are always busy with work or other things that keep them from being able to hang around with me. Even more is that I am just losing the motivation to go out and do things. I think Guild Wars has something to do with that.

The people I hang around with in Guild Wars are great people. They make me laugh and somewhat sane (as much as one can be when they run around with TBC), but I am worried that it is keeping me from going out and socializing. Lately, I will call my friends, find out they are busy and then go take the easy way out to go home and play Guild Wars. I think I am most appreciative of my friendship with Emma. She talks to me in TeamSpeak so I can actually hear her voice and not just type to her. That sort of communication is very refreshing. Teamspeak is not all that great to talk over since it does have a massive lag and the sound quality is not all that great. Its basically like a telephone with lag. I really hate telephones because you lose a lot of the sound quality and sometimes lose words to it.

Moving on the telephones...

I got the new SIM card for my phone yesterday. My phone is working great now!

Finally something else great...

So classes are over for Summer A, now getting ready for Summer B for which I am currently not registered for. I need to get into the one section of the class that I need. If I can get in, then as far as I can tell, I will only need 3 more classes for the fall and then I will be done (with the exception of the internship in the spring). I am tired of being in school and can't wait to be done.
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(no subject) [Jun. 19th, 2006|01:55 am]
ball_slap
so yeah, I am posting out of boredom. One can only sit on the boat in LA for so long. Anyways, I figured now would be a great opportunity to continue with some of my past tales with the phone company!

This past summer, Miami was hit twice by hurricanes. Katrina hit us pretty hard and then Wilma hit us. Katrina was mild and wet so damage was pretty minor. Power was out for only three days, but it wasn't so bad. When I got my power back, the next day my internet came back up. No problem. When Wilma hit us, we lost power once again for three days, but this time when it came back, after 3 more days still no internet. This is where my epic tale commences.

So my neighbor had a wireless router in his house (I knew this because I leached off it with my laptop). After we got power back after Wilma, I was expecting to get internet back the next day as was the case after Hurricane Katrina. This was not the case. The next evening, I called up my ISP (Bellsouth). After waiting for 40 minutes the following conversation took place:


Me: Hi, I am calling to find out when I am supposed to be getting my DSL service back up. I know the problem is not my machine but an infrastructure problem. We were hit by a hurricane and since power and phones are back, I am just wondering if you have a time frame?

operator: There are widespread outages on Florida's WEST coast. The service should be back in 3 weeks or so.

Me: I live in Miami though

Operator: oh ok, well lets first start by releasing your IP address... type in IPConfig...

Me: ok, but I know its infrastructure problems, we just got hit by a hurricane...


at this point, we spend about 40 minutes going back and forth and resetting all my connections while I remind him that the problem is on their end since we just had a hurricane. By the end of 40 minutes, I had unplugged my router, plugged it back in, bypassed my router, reconnected my router, reset my maching 6 times, and completely refreshed all my settings. This is the point that the conversation got really good:

Me: ok, I am not going to do anything else to my machine. A HURRICANE just came through this city. its all over the news. I know the problem is an outage and not my machine. Please just tell me when I can expect to get my internet access back.

Operator: well there is an outage reported on the western end of the state and service should be back in roughly 3 weeks.

Me: I live in Miami though

Operator: Sir, I have already told you that there are reported outages on the west coast of the state.

Me: Miami is not on the west coast, it is on the east coast.

Operator: (long pause).....oh

Me: yup

Operator: ok, let me call the local office and see whats going on then

20 minute break


Operator: ok, we are reporting an outage in your area. Your service should be up in the next 72 hours.

Me: thanks thats all I wanted to know.

ok, so lets start by saying YAY FOR GEOGRAPHY!!! and then say that it is annoying that the call had to last over 2 hours for somethign I asked for originally. The iceing on the cake though comes in the form of a previous conversation I had with my parents about how slow everything and everyone is in Tennessee. They assured me that in Oak Ridge everyone is really smart and intelligent. The call center for BellSouth is located in Oak Ridge... I still remind my parents every time they say how much better Tennessee is about that long pointless phone conversation.
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