Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mr. Maurice Badgett Needs A Serious Reality Check by Akindele Akinyemi

While Mr. Maurice Badgett brags about one middle school in Detroit (Spain) I wonder who in the world at Spain will be able to compete with children all across the globe? Almost invariably, when we hear talk of economic growth in China and India, the question of education arises. There is considerable worry about the state of Detroiters education in comparison with the Chinese and Indians. And well there should be.

If Mr. Badgett was so gung ho for DPS children then he would have examined the textbooks that these children were learning from. We have heard many horror stories regarding textbooks, especially in hard sciences, math and history, which contain volumes of errors and misinformation. In fact, this is one of the many reasons impacting unacceptable education quality in public schools, and one of the reasons DPS and U.S. students score behind most other nations in math and science.

Unlike the old days (a time of superior education quality) when more rigorous school textbooks were developed by real authors who were widely recognized as top experts of the subject, in recent years too many textbooks have been developed by committees with questionable agendas not controlled by subject experts. As a result - - many textbooks today contain seriously wrong and misleading information.

Many textbooks appear more aimed to political and cultural correctness as a priority instead of aimed only to 100% accurate AND relevant information and disciplined learning of the subject. As a result, student mastery of a subject is not only diminished or partly destroyed but it's often skewed to information that is plain wrong (or slanted, or one-sided) due to major text errors and other objectives - - a form of child abuse.

Some have said a way to dumb-down education quality, and use public schools more as means of teaching cultural and political correctness than world class subject mastery, then the education establishment should operate so as to dumb-down text books and teaching methods - - and slant accordingly. To use the socialistic approach of non-expert committees, instead of a free market form of authorship only by recognized subject experts, is a guarantee to education mediocrity. One need not call it an intentional conspiracy to dumb-down quality, but in reality the facts on the ground have the same result - - a terrible disservice to our students and nation.

Mr. Badgett I want you to crawl out of your SW Detroit hole and ask these questions for our audience.

Question 1. If 200 mathematicians and scientists, including four Nobel Prize recipients and two winners of a prestigious math prize, the Fields Medal, deplore math teaching methods saying they are 'horrifyingly short on basics' - should we care?

Question 2. If the president of the American Association of Physics Teachers and his review committee say, 'none of the 12 textbooks used by 85% of middle school students have an acceptable level of accuracy' - - and that 'honors high school texts are no more difficult than an eighth grade reader was before World War II.' - - should we care?

Question 3. Additionally, are too many teachers of math and science so inadequately educated in their subject as to be unable to identify error-laden text books and inadequate teaching methods to keep same out of the classroom? Many make excuses, trying to deflect blame. What action is being taken to protect students?

How can you say MEAP scores are up in Detroit Public Schools when new textbooks are never used and even if they were used you have to consider the following:

Twelve of the most popular science textbooks used in middle schools nationwide are riddled with errors, a new study found.

Researchers compiled 500 pages of errors, ranging from maps depicting the equator passing through the southern United States to a photo of Linda Ronstadt labeled as a silicon crystal.

None of the 12 textbooks has an acceptable level of accuracy, said John Hubisz, a North Carolina State University physics professor who led the two-year survey, released earlier this month.

"These are terrible books, and they're probably a strong component of why we do so poorly in science." He said.

Hubisz estimated about 85% of children in the U.S. use the textbooks examined. "The books have a very large number of errors, many irrelevant photographs, complicated illustrations, experiments that could not possibly work and drawings that represent impossible situations," he told the Charlotte Observer.

The study was financed with a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. A team of researchers, including middle school teachers and college professors, reviewed the 12 textbooks for factual errors.

"These are basic errors," Hubisz said. One textbook misstates Newton's first law of physics, a staple of pure science for centuries.

Errors in the multi-volume Prentice Hall 'Science" series included an incorrect depiction of what happens to light when it passes through a prism was probably the most error-filled. Pretence Hall acknowledged errors, partly because states alter standards at the last minute and publishers have to rush to make changes.

Textbooks are generally reviewed by teachers, administrators, parents and curriculum specialists before the books are used in the classroom. But Hubisz, president of the American Association of Physics Teachers, said many middle school science teachers have little physical science training and may not recognize the errors.

Hubisz said educators need to pressure publishers to get 'real authors' for textbooks.

The general reading level has deteriorated markedly over the last 20-40 years. The publishers, as noted later, have responded to this by dropping the level of science texts. Cornell professor Donald Hayes on results of sampling 788 textbooks used between 1860 and 1992 said, "Honors high school texts are no more difficult than an eighth grade reader was before World War II."

200 mathematicians and scientists, including four Nobel Prize recipients and two winners of a prestigious math prize, the Fields Medal, published a letter in the Washington Post
(Nov. 18, 1999) deploring the reforms, saying that 'programs of the sort picked by the federal panel turn out to be horrifyingly short on basics.'

Further stated in their letter, "it's time to acknowledge that continuing to teach these skills to our students is counterproductive and downright dangerous."

2003 - the American Association for the Advancement of Science reported 90% of math books and 100% of science text books are unacceptable. Additionally, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported that 85% of 12th grade students were not proficient in math and science. (Imprimis, Feb. 2005, page 4)

So Mr. Badgett you brag about DPS MEAP scores and DPS success stories. There are none. Even the ones that are going to Renaissance, Cass Tech and King they have dumb down the curriculum so much that those children will not be able to compete.

Your only solution is to empower a school board. I have never heard you make suggestions to the school board (any school board). Your solution is to walk.

A 2006 US News & World Report study showed that students in Japan, Germany & France:

  1. spend 100% more hours studying math, science and history than U.S. students.
  2. a full 50% of all students take advanced examinations, compared to but 6.6% in U.S.
  3. the left chart shows this equates to 500 per1,000 foreign students taking advanced exams vs. but 66 per 1,000 in the US.
  4. which means foreign schools are 8 times more intense in pushing for measurable quality at advanced levels of learning
Not only do more foreign students take advanced exams, but the same data shows:
  1. their passing rate is 8 times higher than U.S. (33% vs. 4%).
  2. the left chart shows that a foreign school of 1,000 students produces 165 advanced exam graduates vs. only 3 advanced graduates in the same size U.S. school.
  3. this equates to foreign schools having a success rate 57 times higher than U.S. schools for advanced examinations.
  4. the contrast paints a terrible picture for U.S. successful competition in a global economy. (Its as if our football team has 3 good players vs. the competition with 165 good players)
Math 13 yr-<span class=olds International" align="left" height="275" width="389"> The left chart shows the low U.S. position (the red bar) in international math tests of 13 year-olds relative to other nations. Note that not only is the U.S. at the bottom of this list, but the list does not include Germany, Japan, Holland, or Austria, some of the strongest math education systems in the world.

Note at the left the height of the bar on China, relative to U.S. China is expected to be one of the fastest growing economies, already causing massive trade deficits in the U.S. - - and their attention to educating their students is shown here. Further, the largest number of foreign students studying in the U.S. for advanced degrees in science and math come from China. A challenge to our education system, without a doubt.

The nations that took the test and are not shown are such 3rd world nations as from Africa.

Update - This test was taken again, and its report of December 2003 showed no improvement for our more recent 8th graders over the above scores. In that series the USA ranked #18, but again many important nations such as France, Switzerland and China, which took the 1995 test, did not participate in the new one - nor did industrial power house Germany. However, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Belgium, Holland, Czech Republic and Australia, which did not participate in the above 1995 test did participate in the new test - - and each of them well out-scored the USA in the latest test. Malaysia also out-scored the USA.

Science 13 yr-<span class=

Absent from the list of nations that did not participate in this particular series of science tests are such education power houses as Germany, Japan, Soviet Union, Holland and Austria.

Shouldn't DPS strive to be the best?

Wouldn't each student like to know where he or she stands vs. foreign friends?

Update - - in the latest 2003 8th grade science test the USA did not perform better. However, as discussed above for the Math test, some important nations that did not take the test in 1995 did so in 2000 and each outscored the USA. In the latest, USA was even out-scored by Slovenia and Bulgaria.

average days in school The chart at left shows students of other nations have 22-35% more school days per year than U.S. Additionally, some nations (like Germany) require 13 years for a high school diploma vs. 12 years in the U.S. Not only do more days in school potentially assist their higher quality output, but it is done at LESS cost per student.

In 2005, the International Math & Science Study reported that U.S. 12th graders were out-performed by 90% of other nations in math and 76% in science. In advanced math the US was out performed by 94% and in science by 100% of other nations.

And you say no more charter schools in Detroit. No one in your VOICES is listening to your rhetoric. They are not saying anything to you because you lack vision and lack the facts. They are reading this and are beginning to wonder how do we transform the Detroit Public Schools? Walking for your boys like Terry Catchings is NOT the answer.

Truth is Truth.

A recent Business Week article discussed how math and technology are driving business. Without these skills, U.S. workers won’t be able to compete in a “new economy” driven by rapid innovation. India has a growing middle class of more than 400 million people, and every day we hear about more American service and technology jobs outsourced to Indian firms whose workers possess superior math and science abilities.

Chinese, Indian, and most European students are far more advanced than their American counterparts, especially in math and science. John Stossel’s “Stupid in America” report shows that U.S. public schools are failing to teach. He writes:

At age 10, American students take an international test and score well above the international average. But by age 15, when students from 40 countries are tested, the Americans place 25th.

American schools don't teach as well as schools in other countries because they are government monopolies, and monopolies don't have much incentive to compete. In Belgium, by contrast, the money is attached to the kids — it's a kind of voucher system. Government funds education — at many different kinds of schools — but if a school can't attract students, it goes out of business.

And it’s not only high school students. According to a study released last month by the Washington-based American Institute for Research, more than 75 percent of students at 2-year colleges and more than 50 percent of students at 4-year colleges do not score at the proficient level of “quantitative” literacy. This means, according to AIR, that “college students lack the skills to perform complex tasks, such as comparing credit card offers with different interest rates or summarizing the arguments of newspaper editorials.”

Mr. Badgett, were you surprised in June 2004 when Achieve, Inc., a bipartisan, nonprofit education organization formed by governors and prominent business leaders, found that math and English tests for high school diplomas require only middle school knowledge, and that those math graduation tests measure only what students in other countries learn in the seventh grade?

Were you surprised in February 2005 to read that China produced 4 times more BS engineering degrees than the U.S., and Japan twice as many. Nobel Prize-winning scientist R.E.Smalley of Rice University reported "by 2010, 90% of all Ph.D. physical scientists and engineers in the world will be Asian living in Asia."

Were you surprised in 2006 to learn that 65% of 12-graders in DPS were not proficient in reading, a worse result than 1992 when the test was initiated. Yet, you want to send our children to DPS high schools. If they were doing what they were supposed to do they would not have to close Murray Wright, Mackenzie, Redford and Northern High Schools..all death traps for children.

Are you aware that American 12th graders scored below every nation, except Cyprus and South Africa, in the 3rd international math and science series (2/24/04)? Did you know that more than 40% of DPS 10 year-olds cannot even pass a basic reading test and that 70% of DPS 10-graders, as an example, scored below the basic reading level? Interestingly enough, children who are home schooled scored 70% higher than the children going to public school. In addition, over 70% of college freshmen have to take remedial courses to make up for what they should have learned in DPS.

Why is this happening?

What is causing our school system to fail and make DPS children fall behind the rest of the world? The education report shows that the following appear to be among the contributing factors to the demise of our children's public school education:

  • school districts have become larger - this results in parental influence being diluted and children not feeling connected and part of a team (note: the report also shows that violence and discipline problems are much worse in larger schools…"The larger the school, the greater the rate of crime, violence, absenteeism and tardiness.")
  • the PTA's influence is being reduced and even eradicated - Today, fewer than a quarter of public schools have active PTA chapters. This is related to the size of the schools and the fact that the National Chapter of the PTA has become subservient to the two largest education unions (NEA and AFT).
The number of administrators has greatly increased, creating more of a bureaucracy.

You see DPS lives on an island just like you live on an island in SW Detroit. You have no knowledge of global education.

Some state lawmakers from Detroit feel that the solution is more state spending on education. But more money from the state is not the answer; government involvement is part of the problem. Increasing money per student has not resulted in increased ability.

The root of the problem is the “progressive” view of education in general and a monopoly system that removes incentives for excellence. Until we stop using schools as political indoctrination centers that are more concerned about values clarification and self-esteem than they are about math, science, and logic, India and China will continue to outperform us. One or two generations down the line and the United States will find itself in real trouble.

Are you following me Mr. Badgett. I know this is too much to comprehend for you and your little grassroots committee in SW.

Instead of promoting self-esteem, DPS should be teaching math, science and, while we’re at it, re-introduce Latin to help develop a disciplined mind. There is no excuse forDPS students not taking algebra before 9th grade.

I wonder if they do this in most of the middle schools in DPS?

To be able to compete with China and India, we need to improve our educational system and this requires a rigorous math and science curriculum. What’s more, it requires a commitment to truth and a radical overhaul of the public educational establishment, not more government spending. Whether this is possible in today’s political and cultural climate is doubtful. What is revealing is the numbers of parents who are choosing private or home-schooling alternatives.

If we want to help the poorest who do not have the resources to home-school, then we need to give them school choice. You know like expanding charter schools in Detroit with theme curriculums. Enable people to use their tax dollars and put them toward private education or different public schools. This will result in more opportunity and equality for the poor. But now this is difficult and often not permitted by law.

You see, Mr. Badgett, I am actively lobbying for an expansion of charters in Detroit as well as alternative teacher certification. While you are stuck on Zug Island our network is moving right ahead. We will have more charters and we will defeat those who stand in our way.

You bring up Proposal E, yet no one was there to expose your lies. Now I am here to expose not just your lies but your foolish rhetoric. I fight and speak for those who have been afraid to talk, speak up or challenge those grassroots activists in the liberal wing. This is one Black Conservative that is extremely vocal. I have been on the front lines for educational choices and do you think that your little e-mails is going to stop me? You make me stronger when you put my name out there. People are reading my message of hope. We will defeat any liberal that blocks progress of charters in our city and across Michigan.

You see Mr. Badgett, you are not a real grassroots activist. You are what we call over here a left wing liberal with no agenda. You have no blog, no program, no agenda, just a buch of walk and talk. I work both sides of the aisle to get the job done and unlike you I am well respected in both political circles.

The problem is that if school choice were allowed and schools had to compete to stay in existence many public schools would close down and the American Federation of Teachers (a terrorist cell operating in Detroit as the DFT) would lose its control over the minds of public school students. School choice alone is not a panacea — without a recognition of truth there can be no real reform — but it is a beginning.

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