08 July 2010

They still need us! They really really need us!

Teachers that is. Especially ones that demand that you read.

David Frum notices that as manufacturers start to rehire, there is a serious problem with the population they are expecting to hire from.

As manufacturing work gets more taxing, manufacturers are looking at a work force that is actually becoming less literate and less skilled.

In 2007, ETS — the people who run the country’s standardized tests — compiled a battery of scores of basic literacy conducted over the previous 15 years and arrived at a startling warning: On present trends, the country’s average score on basic literacy tests will drop by 5 percent by 2030 as compared to 1992.

That’s a disturbing headline. Behind the headline is even worse news.

His explanation is not convincing (the vast majority of potential hires are natives and the products of American schools), but at least it's a start for a discussion of just what we are doing about education. In this state, that would be cutting budgets massively at both the state and local level and stagnating teachers' salaries along with a few unpaid leave days.

But we must do everything we can not to raise taxes back to the level of, say, the 90s.

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At 08 July, 2010 23:23, Anonymous Maire said...

Yes, I read this. It certainly started better than it ended. I don't understand how poor test scores at schools are caused by unschooled adult immigrants.

At 10 July, 2010 23:17, Blogger Clemens said...

Yes, and I believe that if you subtracted every immigrant, legal or illegal, from the equation we still have many times over the number needed who are unemployed. If they had the skills, what is the problem?

At 15 July, 2010 20:37, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of Frum's favorite whipping boys is low-skill immigrants. It doesn't really matter what the problem is; he likes to attribute it to them.

I have dealt daily with supposedly well-educated American students for decades, and I have to agree that literacy is going way down. (& you've been dealing with this longer, so I'm preaching to the choir, I'm sure.) But don't worry: ETS will do everything they can to fix the problem. Renorm the test, allow the use of calculators, eliminate difficult questions or even sections from the test... whatever it takes, ETS is not so principled that they won't embrace it!

I prefer Ramesh Ponnuru's suggestion: make it possible for someone without a college education to make a decent living. Unfortunately, many of the policies he prefers would do quite the opposite, I fear.


At 15 July, 2010 20:37, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and actually I think cutting spending on education would be a good thing if it meant the overpaid administrators' salaries were cut.

In the real world, unfortunately...


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