Monday, February 11, 2008

Washington Post reviews
Two million Minutes


The Washington Post's highly regarded and nationally recognized education writer, Jay Mathews, recently screened Two Million Minutes and interviewed me in some depth.

Today he posted his thoughts about my film and and the issues it raises in an article called "One Dad's Campaign to Save America".

Mathews is a very smart, very knowledgeable reporter on U.S. education and I enjoyed my conversation with him and found him very likable. Regrettably, I was unsuccessful in convincing him that the high global education standards being set and achieved by hundreds of millions of Indian and Chinese K-12 students represent any cause for concern in America.

Mathews sums his viewpoint with:

"I am not friendly to Compton's argument. I think the Chinese and Indian threat to the American economy is a myth. I have been convinced by economists who argue that the more prosperous they are, the more prosperous we are, since they will have more money to buy our stuff."

A Note from Bob Compton, Executive Producer, Two Million Minutes

Jay Mathews' views are widely read and held in high esteem, usually for very good reason - he's often right. On this issue I believe he underestimates the drive and will and sheer population size of Indian and Chinese students and if we remain complacent we risk our children's future standard of living.

If you have seen Two Million Minutes or if you have traveled in India or China and have views on the risks to America's prosperity by our not rising to meet the global education standards, I hope you'll take a moment to share your thoughts by posting to Jay's blog.

You can view the comments on Jay's blog HERE.


Anonymous said...

The threat to our economy is very real. That is the connection between Abramoff, Microsoft, and Prescott-Gates. The payoff was to influence congress members to pass legislation making it easier for software professionals and engineers to immigrate to the US.

Children in Eastern Europe and Asia learn programming at an earlier age and their math and science programs are traditional. One could even argue that the purpose behind low quality academic programs in the US was to make US students and public schools less competitive.

Its really a very cynical way of running the world, but if profit margin were the bottom line, than social engineering (shaping culture by losing objectivity) will be the currency of the future.

That is the message underlying Campbell's Law. And using the WASL to measure achievement in school and decide on services is asking for serious trouble.

The paradox of math education is the US has more well-paid, highly-educated teachers than any other country. They have less prep time and now according to new teachers, they teach standards and not from a textbook. Administrators grade teachers on whether they teach standards and the reformers would like even better to reward teachers who raise their school's AYP. It will only lead to back-room corruption.

In other countries its just the reverse. Singapore uses a nationalized curriculum and everyone accepts it. Teachers have longer prep times. Students take fewer classes with fewer topics. You will see in more classrooms, that students are active in class and content. They may be loud, but they are respectful to their peers and with each other.

While in the US they experiment in classrooms without following solid protocols or real oversight. The Asians laugh at our education system, because we make teaching and learning so hard. They don't buy what our research is trying to sell them. I wouldn't either.

We don't allow students to take pride or ownership of their classrooms. In fact, the more disadvantaged you are, the less you participate in school. Teachers seem to believe that kids will be able to teach themselves when they enroll in alt ed. I've known entire classrooms left without any teacher at all.

By erasing color, the US thinks it has satisfied the requirements for racial equality, when in fact it has made the US just as segregated as it was before Plessy.

The conservatives have what they wanted and now they are going to get something back in return. If they don't want to invest in their children's future, they will have to learn to live with it.

Anonymous said...

School reform policies are targeted at poor children of color; broad generalizations that sound applicable to all; but it is understood these are responses to perceived catastrophes in deeply segregated schools and unequal schools.

A principal was quoted exactly addressing his students: If you do what I tell you to do, how I tell you to do it, when I tell you to do it, you'll get it right." Silent lunches were instituted and if kids misbehaved they had silent recess. On those days, students sat in rows, and were silent in a small room designated the gymnasium.

The teachers saluted when they want their kids to be quiet and the kids give one back. You should read more about it, or better yet visit a classroom such as this.

School reformers are hardly progressive. And I can't imagine what kind of teacher would expect to get much teaching accomplished if the kids can't read the textbook. Sounds like H... to me.

We hear alot about balanced reporting, balanced curriculum, and that has been one of the arguments made by reformers who engage in the math wars. Its when we don't acknowledge the extreme situations that exist in our institutions when I stop believing anything they have to say is reasonable.

Anonymous said...

For my first day of teaching last year I was given a room in a portable with broken furniture. It had been used as a cafeteria. There were two microwaves and if the kids didn't clean up; they had the microwaves taken away. Most of the boys left by Christmas. Only the girls were left and we got a half dozen ICP gang members to come in and sit with us.

We started without any textbooks. I had to go over and get some old books from the high school. I ended up buying my own curriculum. The principal said she wanted me to use the textbooks. She was going to send over the Spanish ones, but I told her the kids didn't speak Spanish. My students were Mexican-American and they didn't know what the capital of Mexico was? Many were so poor this was the only place they got something hot to eat. And the teachers here were going to take the microwaves away.

This is not BS. A community with 25% Latinos and maybe 20 graduated from the high school. Not one graduated from the Alternative school. Not one ever passed the WASL. Not one had ever had a certificated math or science teacher since leaving high school.

What has OSPI to say about this? Is it these kids don't exist. Is AYP more important than teaching children?

If this isn't apartheid, I don't know what it is.