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December 17, 2008

Comments

"If Mr. E planned to make Rennie uncomfortable, then he was abusing his authority."

I don't agree with myself on this, come to think of it. Making a student uncomfortable might be appropriate--what would be wrong would be using Rennie to get at her dad.

I don't agree with myself on this, come to think of it. Making a student uncomfortable might be appropriate--what would be wrong would be using Rennie to get at her dad.

At best its a balance thing. Does more good come from the action than bad? Is it part of your purview as a teacher to achieve that good at the expense of your student?

Assuming the worst (for which there is not enough evidence to assume) then Mr E, was certainly acting outside the scope of his employment which is not to influence the political decisions of the parents of his students. The action might have been well intended, and might have in fact had positive results, which we not living in an alternative universe can't judge. Is this any different than Tamm's going to the press or Ayers' blowing things up, both of whom are doing something "wrong" to make things better.

I suspect in Mr E's case that the likely benefits were not sufficient to justify the damage caused. In Tamm's case I think he is a hero. In Ayers' case I'm conflicted. At least he did something, while I, who had a student deferment, did fuckall except to wait the war out. He might not have been right, but at least he tried. Course we could say this about Mr. Bush...


As a small aside, I want to take a moment and kvetch about a small pet peeve of mine that has cropped up in this thread.

I was educated in public schools across Oklahoma. I taught mathematics for 3 years at a public school in Oklahoma before moving to Alaska to teach in public schools up here. It looks like I will be teaching both philosophy and mathematics as soon as next year.

John Miller's classroom discussions sound a lot like the discussions I have had with students this year (in the spaces where we can find time), with the exception that I own my fairly moderate liberalism upfront and then set it aside and opt for straight Socratic method.

btfb's son sounds a lot more self-aware and insightful than I was at his age. However, that sort of comment would have made my brother who teaches middle school history in a public school ecstatic.

Interestingly, my best friend teaches drama at a charter in Denver and he is the one teacher I know (obviously, I know quite a few closely) who has a hard time really pushing and challenging his students. Turns out that in his case the parents who were convinced that public school wasn't doing enough for their child are actually just parents who will be eternally convinced that no one is ever doing enough for their child unless they let them do whatever they want and then give them rewards for... well I am not quite sure what the rewards are supposed to be for.

With all that in mind, it really is insulting when people get all wide-eyed about the amazing possibilities of private and charter schools. Maybe such interactions are more commonplace at non-public schools (though I have my doubts), but it isn't as though they are particularly uncommon at public ones either.

I am not one to rail against private or charter schools. I think they serve a purpose and encourage people to do as they think is best for their child. But when you cross into marvel and strong suggestions that your child could only have encountered that type of interaction at a public school, you simply show a disdainful ignorance of the multitudes of teachers teaching students in just these ways every day with the avid support of our administrations.

Not a big deal, mind you. Just something that grates on my nerves.

How do you get 10:1?

10 students per advisor. Although the student-to-teacher ratio for the school is given as just under 7.9, that's for the whole school, and doesn't seem to match up with their stated class ratios that run up to 16:1 in some grades.

Let me state what I mean by a student/faculty ratio. I mean the ratio of students to faculty. You seem to have some other meaning for the term. I don't know why. The number of students is about 1000. The number of faculty is about 250. Do the math. You will, if you can do math, get 4:1, or, hopefully if your job depends in any way on math ability, something close.

I don't know why you think the number of advisors is important to the student/faculty ratio. It is probably important to the student/advisor ratio, and when that comes up as a topic of conversation, you'll be raring to go with your stats. Until then...uh, whatever.

I don't understand your confusion over the student/teacher ratio either. I'll explain the basic math of why a school-wide ratio doesn't mean each grade will have the exact same ratio if that will be helpful to you.

I don't see any injustice at all in them being rich, is all

Yeah that's what I thought. You see injustice in a rich kid missing out on a field trip at her rich kid's school for some vague reason related to her parent licking the boots of racists, but you don't see injustice in the fact that quality of education is doled out based on wealth and privilege. Anyone who doesn't care about the latter and whines about selective injustice for the former better...well, I'll leave it at that for the moment.

....

There is, in fact, nothing wrong with living a privileged life

Bullsh*t. As someone who always insists on doing everything the hard way, I vehemently disagree.

As someone who always insists on doing everything the hard way, I vehemently disagree.

You've chosen your path. Let other people choose theirs.

THanks -

You've chosen your path. Let other people choose theirs.

That would be the easy way out, wouldn't it? I typed this wearing mittens.

"The number of students is about 1000. The number of faculty is about 250. Do the math. You will, if you can do math, get 4:1, or, hopefully if your job depends in any way on math ability, something close."

Faculty does not equal teacher in your equation which is why, despite jabbing at other people's math ability, you are getting this particular word problem wrong.

WTF was going through Chester Crocker's mind when he enrolled his daughter in a Quaker school given his political beliefs? C'mon, doesn't he bear some responsibility for any of the pain that this protest caused his daughter? No doubt he enrolled her in Sidwell because it is a prestigious school, giving little thought to the fact that Quakers' values are very different than his. So he either chose Sidwell Friends as a bragging point so he could tell everyone his daughter goes to Sidwell(!), or (and this can't be dismissed) he wanted his daughter to be exposed to views counter to what she was exposed to at home to.

The point is, if he was any kind of parent at all he should have realized at some point what was going on at his daughter's school and talked to her about her feelings, and if he felt she was being used to get at him, he should have confronted the school and pointed out that it is unprofessional to use a young girl (or boy) to get at their parent(s).

If Jill is correct in her recollection, Mr. E was wrong to try to pressure Crocker through his daughter, but as a father myself, I believe Mr. Crocker, by enrolling his daughter in a school that opposed his beliefs and policies bears a lot of responsibility for any pain suffered by his daughter.

That would be the easy way out, wouldn't it?

No, not really.

I typed this wearing mittens.

I have no idea what to make of this statement.

Thanks -

Faculty does not equal teacher in your equation

My equation was the student/faculty ratio. There is no variable for teachers in the student/faculty ratio. There are students, and there are faculty in the student/faculty ratio.

We know that the number of students is around 1000. We know the number of faculty is around 250.

Give me your best estimate of the student/faculty ratio for a school with 1000 students and 250 faculty, sebastian.

Don't be shy, we all know math is hard!

" in a rich kid missing out on a field trip at her rich kid's school for some vague reason"

Again, not really the actual issue.

russell, now_what was just indicating how he deliberately does everything the hard way, such as typing with mittens.

scoratic_me, you are of course correct. There are excellent teachers and teaching in public schools. I think this thread devolved into a discussion of private schools based upon the assumption they can do things that public schools can't in terms of activities.

russell, now_what was just indicating how he deliberately does everything the hard way, such as typing with mittens.

LOL. Of course.

now_what, thanks for the funny image.

john, thanks for helping light dawn on Marblehead.

Thanks -

socratic_me: I could see where you would be tired of hearing how great charter schools are.

Having always gone to public schools, I had mixed feelings when we found out this time last year that Danny won acceptance to Newark Charter (they do it strictly on a lottery basis) -- mainly because he was already at a terrific elementary school, very small and intimate.

However, we were really worried about what would happen when sixth grade rolled around. It's a shame because he could walk to Shue Middle but I have heard nothing but horror stories about it. In general, Delaware schools -- unlike neighboring Pennsylvania -- are not very good.

What has impressed me most about Newark Charter so far is the enthusiasm for learning that the students there have. Not being an educator, I can't tell you what instills that -- but, to me, I would think that's half the battle in getting kids to learn.

As an aside (since you are a male): Danny was really excited this year when he found out his teacher would be a man, and I was amused by that since he's liked his teachers -- all female -- in the past. It didn't really matter to me, but I was quite impressed with his young teacher last week, who was the first teacher I had ever talked to who really seemed to "get" my kid.

Anyhow, I commend all of you educators. I had thoughts of being a teacher once -- until I realized I lacked the patience.

You seem to have some other meaning for the term.

Yes, I do. Mine is the useful meaning. Student to teacher ratio is mostly only meaningful in the classroom, because that's where instruction is done. Unless class size is four, your ratio is fairly meaningless.

See also here.

I'll explain the basic math of why a school-wide ratio doesn't mean each grade will have the exact same ratio if that will be helpful to you.

I'm certain my math skills are more than equal to the task, thanks.

You see injustice in a rich kid missing out on a field trip

Reading comprehension fail. I can use smaller words next time, if that'll help.

See how well condescension works, as a persuasive device?

you don't see injustice in the fact that quality of education is doled out based on wealth and privilege

Once more: I don't think it's the proper use of a teacher's time and duty to attempt to rectify what you see as injustice through arbitrary infliction of humiliation.

"doled out", though, makes absolutely no sense in this context.

...but in the interest of accuracy, I'm going to say that now_what's student to faculty ratio is correct, and that my counterargument was inapt.

The problem is, student to faculty ratio is not something that matters much at all as regards quality of education, unless all of those faculty are in the classrooms.

So, now_what, you get to be right. You just get to be right about something that doesn't matter. Google student to faculty ratio, and you'll see that almost universally, it's full-time students divided by full-time faculty. You don't know how much of the faculty is full-time, so your ratio isn't meaningful.

"doled out", though, makes absolutely no sense in this context.

Point taken. Poor phrasing on my part.

Now_what

"My equation was the student/faculty ratio. There is no variable for teachers in the student/faculty ratio. There are students, and there are faculty in the student/faculty ratio.

We know that the number of students is around 1000. We know the number of faculty is around 250.

Give me your best estimate of the student/faculty ratio for a school with 1000 students and 250 faculty, sebastian.

Don't be shy, we all know math is hard!"

O-Kay.

You wrote, "She was exposed to selective injustice just by being in that private classroom with its 4:1 student/faculty ratio"

Normally I wouldn't get all grammar-NAZI on you, but I suspect that what you are thinking in your head and what you are communicating in your comments might be different things.

A normal reader would think "surely he meant student/TEACHER ratio because no idiot really believes that including all the faculty is particularly relevant. Number of principals and assistant principals and (depending on definitions) lunch workers and such really isn't important". So we all carry on thinking that you were trying to make a sort-of-relevant comment.

Slarti gives you this benefit of the doubt and goes from there.

Now, if you really want to prove you are super-duper-right about math, you can stick to your student/faculty ratio. The problem with that is: if you do that it exposes the embarassing fact that you are really bad at discussion because you are trying to prove you are right about something that has zero value in the discussion.

And math without context, adds little to the discussion. Ask anyone who knows anything about statistics.

A question for Hilzoy:

I apologize if I missed this in the comments, but one thing about the post--which doesn't seem to be apparent in the twenty of so comments I skimmed--has to do with torturing KSM. I think it's wrong to torture someone, but it's worth figuring out why torturing someone treats him as a mere means to your ends (and thereby shows him disrespect) whereas locking someone in prison for life doesn't treat him as a mere means to your ends (of protection of society and deterrence of other criminals). I should think the answer would be: it's not disrespectful to treat, say, a cold-blooded murderer in that way because such murderers deserve to be put in prison for life. However, it's disrespectful to torture KSM because no one deserves torture. Is that a fair assessment of the Kantian position? And if so, how do we arrive at the intuition about desert? Lex talionis is one way, but lex talionis would in fact permit torture as a punishment for a torturer. So, is it just a brute intuition, or does it have to do with the kind of argument David Sussman makes in his recent article about the wrongness of torture?

As of a couple hours ago, Rennie has commented on Jill's blog post with her side of the story. Very interesting! And very different!

no idiot really believes that including all the faculty is particularly relevant

At least one idiot does not believe that including all the faculty is relevant. Some fool out there, not sure who, will be idiot enough to make arguments implying that only classroom teachers make contributions to the success of a school, and at least one idiot will be idiot enough to assume that when someone talks about the student/faculty ratio that they must, obviously, not be talking about the student/faculty ratio.

Is there an idiot living in your neighborhood?

you are really bad at discussion because you are trying to prove you are right about something that has zero value in the discussion.

A "petty reality" was the term Slartibartfast used when he brought up the issue. If it's ok to go on about a petty reality, it's ok to rip the sh*t out of a falsehood stated about one. I like to fight with people who like to fight, too.

math without context, adds little to the discussion

So you are not a mathematician.

Ask anyone who knows anything about statistics

Can you refer me to someone who actually does?

it's ok to rip the sh*t out of a falsehood stated about one

You're welcome to try. You say 4:1, but no Google search will support anything less than about eight to one.

There. Three links now, to your zero.

At least one idiot does not believe that including all the faculty is relevant.

I'd be careful about calling others idiots, while you're coming out with unsupportable and meaningless figures. If you do things like that, you can, for instance, come out with a student/faculty ratio for Purdue University of 3.73, which is a far cry from the official figure of 15.8. Saying Purdue has a student to faculty ratio of 3.73 would be idiotic, because you're computing a number that has no relationship to anything that matters. As I've said repeatedly. You're completely wrong on this, and you're compounding your mistake by maintaining that your meaningless calculation is true.

Which it is. It just doesn't represent anything useful.

You're welcome to try. You say 4:1, but no Google search will support anything less than about eight to one.

I say 4:1 for what number? Your link is to a search for a student/teacher ratio. I said the student/classroom teacher ratio was 7 point something to 1 which agrees with your search results (they round it to 8). What was I wrong about?

I said the student/faculty ratio was 4:1. It is.

One university has 1000 students, 100 teachers, no other faculty. Another university has 1000 students, 100 teachers, 100 people doing pure research, 10 administrators, 100 advisors, 100 support staff.

10:1 student/teacher ratio for each of them. What number would you use to demonstrate the non-meaningless difference between the two? Or would you just claim that by the numbers given, the two schools look the same?

I said the student/faculty ratio was 4:1. It is.

The part where you're wrong is where you say It is. Student to faculty ratio is never, ever computed from total students and total faculty. Possibly excepting the times when you're doing it, I admit.

I provided a handy example, too. Look for Purdue's student/faculty ratio, and they'll own up to 15.8, even though they have 18,872 faculty and only 70,398 students. You can check out any school that publishes these figures and see, or you could continue to assert that, in effect, schools have just made collectively tragic mistakes in their calculations.

"Actually, and I know this is well off topic, but is there a really good case for an effective embargo of South Africa circa 1980 that doesn't run against all the standard arguments against the Cuban embargo being effective?"

Well, yes: the actual facts. Which are that, in fact, the South African government was severely affected by the economic and moral boycott, and that this was a significant part of what actually led to the collapse of the apartheid government, and that the Cuban government, while certainly troubled by the American economic boycott, has never come significantly close to collapse because of it.

Actual reality seems like a pretty good case to me.

"I would have sworn there was some sort of general trade thing but I can't find anything on it."

!!!

I don't know what to say to that.

Ronald Reagan signed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act. The disinvestment and anti-apartheid campaign was arguably the second most visible political campaign around the entire world in the Eighties. (The first being the anti-nuclear/anti-nuclear-war protests, of course.)

"Besides, Gary Farber is the official Thread Cop, not you."

I don't go around telling people what topics they should or shouldn't post on here.

I just offer the correct spelling of people's names. :-)

(Such as "Crocker," not "Crooker," "Croker," "Cooker," or "Cook.")

"As of a couple hours ago, Rennie has commented on Jill's blog post with her side of the story. Very interesting! And very different!"

A link to her comment.

"Is there an idiot living in your neighborhood?"

You seem to be under the impression that this sort of form of argument is helpful and persuasive. As someone with too much past history of falling into rhetoric in too close a neighborhood, may I suggest that any such belief is largely mistaken?

To be sure, it does feel good to put down others a lot; I still have to fight the tendency myself. But I haven't found it's all that persuasive, or that it tends to enhance one's reputation. YMMV.

The part where you're wrong is where you say It is. Student to faculty ratio is never, ever computed from total students and total faculty.

Ok good, we have clarified our point of disagreement. I think the student/faculty ratio is the ratio of students to faculty. You think the student/faculty ratio is something other than the ratio of students to faculty, and think I am an idiot for thinking that the student/faculty ratio should be computed as the ratio of students to faculty.

I stand by my earlier statements. The student/faculty ratio is the ratio of students to faculty. If you believe otherwise, you are not only wrong, but you are deserving of the George Orwell Prize In Honor Of Abuse of the English Language.

You've earned it.

....

You seem to be under the impression that this sort of form of argument is helpful and persuasive

You seem to have mistaken me for someone who gives a f*** about being either helpful or persuasive.

I'm not anyone's personal assistant. I am not your personal coach. I try to say things that are true. Here is a statement that is true: the student/faculty ratio of the school in question is 4:1. No amount of whingeing will change that. No amount of redefining the term student/faculty ratio to mean something different than the ratio of students to faculty will change that.

This is not a negotiation where I say something true, someone else says something untrue, and we settle on a half-truth for the sake of comity. Screw that.

And I don't give a damn about my bad reputation.

"This is not a negotiation where I say something true, someone else says something untrue, and we settle on a half-truth for the sake of comity."

That's nice. It has nothing whatever to do with anything I said, but I'm sure it, too, made you feel good to bravely declare. Awesome.

If you're not interested in being persuasive to anyone, why are you bothering to address actual people, rather than your wall?

"... don't give a damn about my bad reputation."

I prefer Joan Jett's rendition.

If you're not interested in being persuasive to anyone, why are you bothering to address actual people, rather than your wall?

You imply that the only reason to address someone is to persuade them. I can't agree.

There is value in telling the truth, even given the fact that it is probable no one will listen.

"There is value in telling the truth, even given the fact that "it is probable no one will listen."

Could you elaborate? What, exactly, do you believe you're accomplishing by posting here if you -- hypothetically -- believe "it is probable no one will listen"?

And why, exactly, do you believe that that's probable, in your case, if that is indeed what you think?

You think the student/faculty ratio is something other than the ratio of students to faculty

I think the student/faculty ratio used as a metric by most institutes of learning is, in fact, something other than students divided by faculty, yes. I think I've provided links to that effect. It's fine that you want to have your own definition. If you were evaluating a school, you'd probably be a great deal more interested in the student/faculty ratio that's meaningful, which is NOT the number of students divided by the number of faculty.

Which would be misleading.

and think I am an idiot for thinking that the student/faculty ratio should be computed as the ratio of students to faculty.

I think you're an idiot? Thanks for revealing that which has been, until now, hidden. I may want to retain your services in ferreting out the otherwise unknowable in the future.

I think the student/faculty ratio used as a metric by most institutes of learning is, in fact, something other than students divided by faculty, yes. I think I've provided links to that effect

You provided no such links.

You provided a link to some page about a student/advisor ratio. That has jack sh*t to do with a student/faculty ratio. You provided a link to an NEA page that said jack sh*t about a student/faculty ratio - it in fact did not even have the word faculty on the page. You provided a link to a google search that included the terms student teacher ratio. Which has jack sh*t to do with a student faculty ratio.

None of the links you provided even mention the term student/faculty ratio. They talk about a student/teacher ratio, which is the ratio of students to teachers. No one is arguing that student/teacher ratio is something other than the ratio of students to teachers. And it is an incomprehensibly silly argument to state that the student/faculty ratio is something other than the ratio of students to faculty.

Let's state that one more time, because it is apparently a hard concept to grasp.

The student/teacher ratio is the ratio of students to teachers. The student/faculty ratio is the ratio of students to faculty. This is not rocket science. You do not need to be a math phd to grasp these concepts.

You provided a link to some page about a student/advisor ratio. That has jack sh*t to do with a student/faculty ratio.

It's not the student/faculty ratio, but it's a lot closer than dividing the number of students by the number of faculty. The student/faculty ratio is (loosely speaking) properly computed taking into consideration the number of full-time faculty and full-time students. Since this is middle school, full-time students is equal to enrollment, but full-time faculty is not.

None of the links you provided even mention the term student/faculty ratio.

Incorrect. My Purdue link mentions that explicitly; evidently you didn't bother to click and read. I'm pretty sure that some of my other links mentioned it as well, but seeing as you didn't bother to read that one, I don't think it's worthwhile to show you what you've missed.

Let's state that one more time, because it is apparently a hard concept to grasp.

Evidently it is. BTW, here's the first Google hit on student to faculty ratio. If you don't buy that, I at least can be smug that I attended a state-supported university that had a student to faculty ratio of under 4. I must be well-privileged.

The student/faculty ratio is the ratio of students to faculty.

Oh, sure, it can be. That's just not a meaningful way to compute it.

You do not need to be a math phd to grasp these concepts.

I'm not sure you want to compare math credentials with me, unless at least have an MS. You keep bringing this issue of math skills up as a suggestion of an insult. There are a few commenters that kick my ass in math; I'm guessing you're not one of them.

Again: this has nothing to do with math; it has to do with definition of useful metrics.

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