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Robert Winner

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Is STEM the educational panacea

I have no problem with the push for STEM ... I do however, if it is at the cost of Reading, writing, and comprehension.

Has the demands of the Secretary of Education of the US to concentrate solely on STEM in combination with fiscal constraints placed other "core" subjects in danger.

Where is education going? Where should it be going?

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    Apr 14 2013: I don't interpret the interest in STEM as displacing reading, writing, and comprehension. I expect those will always come first. These are at the basis of every state's standards and the common core standards as well, aren't they?

    As you and I started school in the middle of the last century, do you remember how dramatic the emphasis was in the early grades on reading and social studies and how minimal science was? I cannot remember whether we had science twenty minutes a day, or twenty minutes a week, but I do remember it was twenty minutes and that we just read something out of an old textbook. Now almost everywhere science is taught through experimentation and inquiry in the early grades.

    Further, particularly in the early grades, teachers mostly were educated in social studies and humanities and not highly conversant in math and science.

    I think the STEM push has displaced the huge focus on social studies but not reading, comprehension, and writing.

    At the high school level, I think the standards have increased substantially in the STEM areas but that students are still expected to take a class in both English/language arts and history every year they are in school. They just can't make a choice not to take high school math or science.

    Is this not an accurate picture today for Arizona?
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      Apr 14 2013: Fritzie, I am not for sure ... I posted this to get a feel from the members. There are many indicators ... which does not prove anything ... I listen to kids read in sunday school, I ask how many books my grandkids and their friends read, I am not a big fan of Facebook, but I see some postings and they show a need for concern, at the high school when I find a paper and read it .. I have concerns.

      Is it not true that colleges have remedial courses for reading and comprehension? As I was leaving the military almost all technicial courses had lowered the reading level and reading assignments.

      I may be incorrect but I see the potential problem more in boys more than in girls. As I look at the college levels there are more females enrolling and graduating than boys ... quite a reversal as a matter of fact. I am not trying to sound an alarm but there are indicators. Sports may be a hugh contributor as more and more scandals are being uncovered in grade and eligibility cover ups and a very low percent of players graduate.

      Good students will always rise to the challange, but there seems to be a widening gap between the "average" student and the "good" student.

      Perhaps my thoughts are influenced by MY concerns that we are teaching the test and not the subject. We had to dig the answer out of reading assignments and lectures .... now the students have foot stompers and test question drills to ensure success. Very shallow learning at best.

      My concerns may also be based on the school and teachers tie to the success of the student. Atlanta is just a indicator of what I fear may be happening in testing and evaluation all over the US.

      PS: Your right almost all of my science came from the Weekly Reader we all recieved. Very limited.

      I'm on a fishing trip here to get vibes from all over.

      As always ... thanks for your input. Bob.
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        Apr 14 2013: I think colleges offer remedial courses in a variety of areas for those who are missing some basics. In fact, I work with a department at a local college that is doing this.

        Most of the students are older and either dropped out of high school, did not had the opportunity to finish but now want to go to college, or are from other countries.

        Many do not read or do basic math at the level that college courses require.
      • Apr 16 2013: Mr. Winner,
        I would like to comment on some of the points you made.

        I hear many of the concerns you raised all of the time but they tend to be perceptive rather than based on empirical data. Let me give some example of what you said.:

        1. "...I see some postings and they show a need for concern, at the high school when I find a paper and read it .. I have concerns."
        First and foremost, the truth about reading and writing is that our kids nowadays are a lot better at reading and writing than they were two decades ago. And while some cite what they are reading that was written by students or the declining ACT and SAT scores as doom and gloom scenarios for how bad things are versus how good they once were, such reasoning is the equivalent of comparing apples to oranges. In those prior decades, prior to so-called "accountability" and other measures, students who did not fit into the classical classroom setting were let go. They were sent out, expelled, or dropped out...and they could get jobs. Now, all kinds of kids who traditionally had been sent out or left school are now REQUIRED to stay because if they don't, the school loses funds and if they don't, there is no job for someone without a high school diploma. Moreover, getting a high school diploma now is MORE difficult than in the past because a student HAS to show proficiency in those content areas. In other words, we have never educated more people more effectively than we have now despite the perception otherwise.

        2. "Sports may be a hugh contributor as more and more scandals are being uncovered in grade and eligibility cover ups and a very low percent of players graduate."
        In high school, those who are involved in sports have higher GPA's, higher SAT and ACT scores, and are more likely to graduate than those who are not. Colleges screw it up because it is a for profit endeavor.

        I have run out of characters...
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          Apr 16 2013: Thomas, Since you do not offer any location or background I must assume that you are from other than the USA. In the USA we have seen a decline and it is continuing using as you say empirical data.

          Yes I speak of college scandals in sports.

          I do accept your perceptions ... but they are not directed to the question at hand Is STEM the panacea?

          Thanks for your reply. Bob.
  • Apr 15 2013: Graduates decline as jobs decline. Look at engineering. I know about physics. There are good jobs for less than the normal production of 1,000 PhD's per year. Everything else is like this. Why ruin an innocent kid's life by pumping him up for a world that doesn't exist. If you enjoy doing something do it while it is fun. Do physics or mathematics or chemistry if you enjoy it. Don't ruin a a child's liife for BS.
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      Apr 15 2013: George, There should exist some responsibility on both the student and the school to counsel on the job opportunities and a match of your appitude and skills. As it is you are buying a car without a test drive or even a drivers license. When I went to school the joke was how many took phys ed and socialology ... they were considered worthless degrees by the more serious groups. over a four year period the cost would exceed 100 K in costs and maintenance. Where is a 18 year old going to come up with that. Say he gets a job as a gym teacher ... what is the pay off rate. No sweat though as the unpaid student loans is in the trillions. Also the US President is working to forgive all student loans ... trillions that banks have loaned out of your and my money ... that is certain to help the economy.

      The point is that "just do it" and "have fun" is expensive. If my degree is Language arts / poetry I have narrowed my chances some what ... sure there is related areas, but to begin the conversation with a interviewer as I am a poet with a degree in language arts ... may limit the call backs.

      I do not wish to ruin a childs life ... however .. by ignoring known facts about the job market I may well be destroying a adults life by "pumping him up for a world that doesn't exist".

      After NASA shut down thousands of PHd were driving cabs ... we hired one at GD and he spent all of his time networking for a job as the boss somewhere / anywhere ... a waste of a position. Do we really need thousands of PHd Libranians. Even a Masters in library sciences is a over kill and very expensive. The salary versus the cost to achieve it are far apart.

      Life ain't fair ... but some have a sheeps skin and are far ahead of many others ... deal with it.

      Thanks for the reply. Bob.
      • Apr 16 2013: Rob - I am 63 so I have a hard time understanding students who owe fortunes for their educationsl My B S cost my Dad less than 4 grand Grad school about 2 semesters - made money. Law school cost my dad about 6 thousand and my MBA was paid for by the GI bill. I've done some other studies but they really haven't cost me anything. What I am trying to articulate is telling a kid that there are all these jobs to get her to do something only because of the great jobs is wrong. People usually don't get engineering degrees because that's what they want to do for five years - They want to do that for five years and do it at work for the rest of her life.
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          Apr 16 2013: George, We are close ... I'm 70. Was stationed at Carswell afb in Ft Worth. Retired and returned as a engineer at General Dynamics Ft Worth and lived in Benbrook.

          College was certainly much cheaper when we went to school and the GI Bills were a great benefit for us also.

          I like the idea of a kid leaving school for two years .. right after the soph year to travel / work / mature then return for his major.

          Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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          Apr 16 2013: I am a little younger than you gentlemen, but I remember distinctly that undergraduate tuition at the public university was $636 per year, and room and board in a coop with work shifts to defray costs was $705 for the school year.
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    Apr 14 2013: this country has a much bigger problem then the debate of our educational system. Does anyone have any idea how many young adults who are truly gifted in all these disciplines haven't a prayer for a secondary education? In 2013..Far too many. it boggles my mind that a country who thirsts for these talents to compete in this world wide market have created a for profit secondary education. Yes, there are all sorts of programs to help, FASA (that's a joke but, better than nothing), Stafford loans, etc. It gets down to that thousands of more dollars that a young adult needs. In a economy that has tanked leaving people unemployed and loosing homes due to default mortgages, it has effected in a very negative way the new 21st "Scarlet Letter" the credit score. No hope for that personal loan to make up the difference. something is terribly wrong. What is the saying 'the sins of the father..."
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      Apr 15 2013: Mary Ellen, For far to long we, the USA, have allowed the fox to guard the hen house. In almost every state in the Union the State Constitution allows that higher education will be provided by the state for as near to zero cost as possible. Each states budget has education as either #1 or #2 in its budget .... literally billions of dollars and still the schools find a way to spend it all and beg for more.

      It is the system .... In Arizona we have three state schools .... ASU .. U of A ... and NAU ASU has been on a building spree for yearas as the Presidents plan is to become the largest University in the world ... a week ago all three schools said that the building will continue but they need more money because they have not been maintaining the current structures.

      The states live up to the responsibilities of educating and the school administrators take the money and do what they want. You say you are a student but not where ... is it a state school?

      Look into CT educational budget ... states contribution ... schools earnings ... operations costs ..... money dispersement .... etc .... figure the cost per student ... etc.

      Is the President worth 2 million a year ... the football coach a million plus .... basketball a million plus ... etc.

      Is it all the "sins of the father" how about the federal intervention ... the housing crash ... the banks ... the economy ... the cost of social programs ... failure of students to repay trillions in school loans ... and the beat goes on.

      The point is Mary Ellen we have to start some where ... we need to become involved. The fox is not only in charge he is building new hen houses at our expense.

      Thanks for your concerns and for answering. I wish you well. Bob.
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    Apr 14 2013: how can you teach STEM without reading, writing and comprehension?
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      Apr 14 2013: These are not absent .... rather they are deminished in favor of STEM subjects.
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    Apr 14 2013: Are they not in effect usurping the teacher? Which is typical with centralized anything.

    To me they should get rid of Carter's department of education. Put it at the state level and have more charter schools.
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      Apr 14 2013: Yep ... way to much indoctrination and not enough education. When Carter made it a Cabnet Post he also made the educational supervisors head bobbers and nest egg builders. Because the money now comes through the feds the need for state and local administration is deminished if not removed.

      I agree that administration shoud be at the state level. But that also presents a problem unless the system is revised. The nest eggers will not go away and more will go to administration that to operations and instruction. As you say the Charter set up is more designed to facilitate the student with a direct connection to the parents who have put their money on the line. The parent, student, school formula has always proven to be successful.

      Public schools would still be necessary but under the right conditions would be greatly reduced and could provide more one on one attention and a better quality student. However, it would also mean that the public schools would harbor gangs and students that do not want to be there in much higher percentages.

      No easy answer. As always .. thanks for the reply. Bob.
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        Apr 14 2013: To be honest I fear we are talking about rearranging the deck chairs...

        Since the situation becomes more dire with every passing year. I would recommend a remedial understanding of how the economics system works and the need for MORE Charter schools. This type of education may give the necessary leverage to start, with a reasonable SOTUS and POTUS, to remove the liabilities from the FED ie the dept of education, energy and the rest.

        As far as the gangs go you are wasting your time trying to rehabilitate them. Simply round them up and put them in detention centers with hard labor similar to Sheriff Joe's philosophy. After digging ditches for a time they may me amenable to education. .