Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Government Education in Action

On a recent exam my students had the following question:

From the 'I, Pencil' essay, fully explain how Indiana will recover from its recent devastating tornadoes.  Adam Smith would argue that a completely privatized education system would lead to what outcome for American parents?  Fully explain.

In order to answer this question the student must have first read the classic essay mentioned in the question and of course, they must have read about the views of Adam Smith and the economics of public education as presented in their lectures and textbook.

Here is what one student wrote (as always I have not edited what follows for spelling or grammar):

"In India the tornadoes are becoming a majer issue for them.  They need American sadalights to keep a watch out for them.   The best idea is to get some kind of a radar. India has been ripped up with a tornadoes.  They will be able to come back from this by getting the people's help, raising taxes and finding other ways to rebuild.  The education system will help the children get smarter and become better people.  By this they can get the proper education to prepare for the next tornadoes."

So, how is your child's public school doing?


  1. If you gave the student anything more than zero points on that question, you will lose my respect.

    I'd bring in a globe and ask the student to point to Indiana then to India. I would also send this to his high school and tell them they need to refund their salaries to the taxpayers for failing to fulfill their contractual agreements.

  2. Not only did they get zero points they ended up earning a 1/100 points for the total of five essay questions. I don't give points for trying. Outcome, not effort is all my students get points for. Perhaps I will ask him where he went to high school...

  3. Dear Pr. Chambless! I would like to express my deepest admire of your talent. If I had a chance to take your classes again, I would do it in a heartbeat! The knowledge, you gave me, changed my mind radically and opened it to the entirely new world. Because you prepared me so well, I was able to get a job at Merrill Lynch! The Financial Information test, which I had to take as a requirement, was at 60% composed of questions from economics! Thank you so much and best luck at educating the young generation how work hard and depend only on themselves! Sincerely, Valentina

    1. Valentina, If I had more students like you my life would be a breeze. Many thanks for YOUR hard work and determination.

  4. "Perhaps I will ask him where he went to high school..."

    Two things have been revealed. (1)You either assume that all of your students have a public school education, or you assume that your struggling students have a public school education. (2)Your student's answer gives us insight into the rigor of ENC-1101, which I assume he has already taken.

    I could not, however, extrapolate any information about the quality of public secondary schools... mainly because we don't know if he attended a public high school. For all we know, he attended a private school. Private schools in Florida aren't required to have their teachers meet the same credentials as their public school counterparts.

  5. To cv/d - My foreign, American private school students and American homeschooled students do not give answers like this. And yes, I ask my students which category their K-12 education fit in. Second, private schools in Florida do not require the joke which is:

    a. Teaching certificate
    b. Degree in Education

    Did you know that Bill Gates would not be allowed to teach basic computer software technology to a public school kid in Florida? He would be allowed to teach at a private school. The public schools "credentials" mean nothing. Most are not trained to be experts in a field, rather an expert in teaching methodology. Private schools make sure they hire people who are good in their field which is why private school kids perform so much better.

  6. Dear Pr. Chambless,
    This makes me appreciate the wonderful grade system we have in Denmark, because we can actually give -3 as a grade. Sometimes, people surely deserve to loose 3 points for being too dumb.
    Great blog!!! Have been reading it for a while and I'm really enjoying it.
    Best regards from Denmark,

  7. Thank you to my Denmark reader! I did have a guy make a -2 on my first test this spring. He made an 18 but lost 20 points for texting in class. I showed my sons his test and told them, "Just think boys, your stuffed animals would at least make a zero on one of my tests..."

  8. I attended a private school in Brazil, and a group of students in my physics class complained that the new teacher was a lot harder than the one he replaced. The principal addressed the class saying "Mr. A comes from a public school system and he teaches at a different pace, Mr. B thinks like me; if I'm dealing with a group of juniors and seniors, you have to be able to keep up with me". Mr. A and the principal were both American, Mr. B was Brazilian. Everyone had no choice but to step it up, because at that school it was allowed to kick students out for poor academic performance. From my graduating class alone, there were students admitted (and graduated from) MIT, Princeton, UPenn, Ga Tech, Columbia, NYU. I was one of the "lazy" students by their standards and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from UCF, now working in my field. There are exceptions to every rule, but the probability of getting a better education is a lot higher when a teacher is focused on performance rather than on meeting credentials. Many of the teachers at that school are recruited from the American public school system, take THEIR word for it.