Date: Oct 3, 2012 12:50 PM
Author: kirby urner
Subject: Re: US teachers are overworked and underpaid

On Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 7:59 AM, Paul Tanner <> wrote:

> Again: And it's really stupid to overwork teachers as something they
> deserve for "being stupid" when it could actually be the case that the
> students are hurt even more by overworking "stupid" teachers compared
> to overworking "non-stupid" teachers.

Lets try different lenses and look at this as all brilliantly designed.

Textbook writers, review committees, editors, designers, layout
artists, all need work, and the skills of publishing have been
distinct and related to printing presses.

This idea that an individual teacher could write world-readable
illuminated manuscripts with interactive components was pure science
fiction through most of the 1900s.

On the other hand, you have a lot of adults who might be willing to
work with younger people, helping them hone their skills, if the
compensation were high enough.

Apparently, it *is* high enough, as we have huge numbers of adults who
have elected to perform just such services.

On the other hand, if school is way too desultory for your taste, the
lack of physical movement, the semi-paralysis of a desk job, and if PE
has been cut back, no art and no music, then maybe military service is
your ticket to a better school system.

You might learn to operate heavy equipment or maintain aircraft, and
you'll return to the civilian sector with marketable skills, or so
goes the PR.

Other OECD nations have only a fraction of the military the US has so
it's important that market / social pressures continue to do their

K-12 puts up various obstacle courses, such as poorly taught math,
weak STEM, few skills, and the military schools (divisions, bases,
branches) swell with those electing a different trajectory through
alternative obstacle courses.

Of course this is an oversimplification. Many go from high school to
college and only enter the military later, perhaps with officer rank.

In my view, a US public education system should have as its ideal the
education of future presidents.

This doesn't mean unrealistically fueling the hopes of millions that
they could all sit in the Oval Office, but rather a citizen of the US
needs to internalize the values and skills that make for a citizen /
participant able to function at a high level in democratic

To the extent that democracy is failing i.e. to the extent that adults
are failing to gain many presidential qualities (broad well rounded
knowledge, appreciation for many cultures, ability to work in an
egalitarian style in groups etc.), non-democratic institutions start
to gain the upper hand.

With so many USAers living overseas in top down military hierarchies
(not run on democratic principles) one can see the breakdown.
Americans used to come to Afghanistan as tourists, in Hawaiian shirts
(my family was through Kabul in the 1970s). Now they come in camo and
carry firearms.

Public schools have been unable to uphold their end of the bargain to
sustain democracy and Americans are flooding into the
prison-industrial complex as TSA / Homeland Security or just security
in general, an important export. The Philippines exports care givers
and home care personnel. The USA exports mercenaries.

Much of the balance (adults not majoring in security) are entering
prisons as "offenders" i.e. as people who wouldn't / couldn't follow
the rules of civilian society.

The US is turning from Athens into Sparta.

So in that sense, it's maybe not that brilliant a design (more like an
idiocracy), but it is keeping a lot of adults employed and you can't
just say "make them all find jobs in other sectors" when so many
not-prison-or-military-related jobs have not been created yet.

They could be, there's work to be done. Cleanup is an especially
important calling, along with toxins monitoring, but that all takes a
background in STEM.

As the DVD series 'Breaking Bad' well demonstrates, if you deprive the
middle class of sufficient health care, you'll just end up fueling an
underground economy.

Quakers smuggle cheap heart meds into nursing homes from Canada,
evading TSA crackdowns.

Providing health care becomes an underground railroad type of
undertaking. It's not clear we have enough health care workers to fix
it. You can mandate all the healthcare you want, but you can't change
the laws of physics. Preventative care would mean making school more
physically active and I'm not sure Americans could handle that. They
all want desk jobs controlling drones, shooting bad guys, like they
see on TV (ala 'Team America: World Police').