Coffeehouse Thread

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America's high schools are obsolete

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  • eagle

    Bill Gates delivered a blistering critique of American high schools on Saturday, and his foundation promised $15 million to states to make immediate improvements.

    Speaking to the National Governors Association, he said that "America's high schools are obsolete" and are "ruining the lives of millions of Americans every year."

    High schools, leave most students unprepared for college and for today's jobs. "When I compare our high schools with what I see when I'm traveling abroad," he added, "I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow."

    To address the problem, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said it would give $15 million to the National Governors Association, to be disbursed to states that take significant steps to improve their high schools.

  • Michael Griffiths

    Good for him.

  • NeoTOM

    Shouldn't he give at least twice that to make any kind of a difference?

  • Michael Griffiths

    NeoTOM wrote:
    Shouldn't he give at least twice that to make any kind of a difference?


    No, not really.

    He only has a limited amount of money (albeit alot of net work), and the Foundation gives to alot of different causes.

    US$15 million will certainly make a difference - and, really, the main benefit of such a donation is to raise public awareness.

    i.e. "If it's such a problem, then I should give too"

    It typically works pretty well, although - naturally - we could wish for better.

    The only danger with Gates is people (in the tech-end) thinking "Oh, BillG's taking care of it, so I don't need to donate". But I doubt that applies much to most of the US.

  • ScanIAm

    I would never take away a mans ability to talk smack about something, but...um...didn't Mr. Gates drop out of harvard?  I heard an interview with his father within the last 6 months or so (on NPR, imagine) and while it was interesting, it pointed out that it is much easier to throw stones at a glass house from walmart than it is to destroy one hand blown by talented new england artisans.

    Hooray for Bill and many thanks for the donation to the US schools, but please remember that he also donated to Mr. Bush's plan of 'no child left behind' aka 'it must be the teachers fault if johnny is a farking lazy idiot'




  • dantheman82

    High schools != colleges.  I'd say that while high schools range from good to horrible, there is much more diversity than colleges.

    Colleges, IMHO (I'm a BS/MS CS degree student at the moment), are even worse on a comparative scale than high schools.  So, while they charge a lot more, many more colleges range from being total crap to a  rip-off.  A few state schools with great reputation may be the only exception.

  • W3bbo

    ScanIAm wrote:

    Hooray for Bill and many thanks for the donation to the US schools, but please remember that he also donated to Mr. Bush's plan of 'no child left behind' aka 'it must be the teachers fault if johnny is a farking lazy idiot'


    I hate raising this point again... but the Foundation also donates regularly to the "Discover Institute", a conservative and pro-creationist think-tank.

  • eagle

    View speech 


    I agree with everything Bill has said, having gone to a very good High School where most of the students didn’t avail of the technology made available to them.

    The American system has always awarded initiative but too often fails to challenge. Education is about growing and you grow by being challenged by people who love learning something new everyday.

  • Larry​Osterman

    W3bbo wrote:


    I hate raising this point again... but the Foundation also donates regularly to the "Discover Institute", a conservative and pro-creationist think-tank.

    Just looked that up.  It appears that they donated $10M (once, split over a 10 year period) to the Discovery Institute's cascadia project, which is devoted to solving regional transportation issues (albeit from a distinctly conservative bent).

    So this is a case of guilt by association - I first felt sick to my stomach when I read this (because I can't believe that Gates or his foundation supports ID), but I realized after thinking about it that just because one part of the Discovery Institute has problems with the scientific method doesn't mean that the institute as a whole should be punished.

    If you read the cascadia web page (http://www.cascadiaproject.org/) it's not surprising that the foundation supported them.

  • NeoTOM

    Well, I'm glad to hear it. Look what I found on their site:

    Post this on every BBS you can get your hands on:
    ARE YOU 100% SURE...

    Wink

  • eagle

    NeoTom, why don't you tell us about your High School?

    How many computers for how many students?

    Any kids walking around with laptops? Tablet PC's?

    How about the teachers, any of them with laptops? Tablet PC's?

  • Sven Groot

    eagle wrote:
    NeoTom, why don't you tell us about your High School?

    How many computers for how many students?

    Any kids walking around with laptops? Tablet PC's?

    How about the teachers, any of them with laptops? Tablet PC"s?

    We had 32 PCs for about 400 students. I don't think Tablet PCs were invented yet back then.

    My primary school was even better, we had one Apple II. They also didn't have a fotocopier but one of those manually operated carbon stencil machines. Wink
    (I feel old now, and I'm only 23!)

  • W3bbo

    Lets see...

    1st Primary School: We had one BBC Micro per classroom, each with between 25 and 38 students in. That was back in the early 90's.

    2nd Primary School: 4 Apple Performas and 1 PowerPC per classroom with 18-25 students per class, a few years later they got them all networked together. Before then we were all issued with floppy disks.

    High School: Still running Windows 3.0 and 95 on a load of bulk-purchased Digital-Systems running some RM version of group policy and domains. Fortunatley the restrictions were at the shell level and easily bypassed Smiley

    Then sometime in 2002 (yep... still using 10 year-old equipment) they bought a load of 1Ghz XP Pro boxes from (yep... RM again) after some massive government IT push. The first "IT-Push" was in 1997 when they got virtually all the primary schools in the UK to spend over £20,000 per school on new IT equipment, in the majority of cases it wasn't justified. The second push was between 2000 and 2002 and was for secondary schools.

    Still, for reasons unknown to me, they still use an RM top-layer over existing Active Directory and Group Policy. This seems highly unnessacery.

    My 6th Form has always had the "latest and greatest" from (shudders) RM (...again), the latest aquisitions include new 2Ghz boxes and over 300+ TFT displays for all the computers, and projectors in every room....even those without computers.

    ....Because this epileptic guy's parents complained

    I understand the money was going to be spent buying PowerMac G5s for the media-studies department, instead they're still using 2000 iMacs. (the purple ones)

  • jakesomethi​ng

    Well I was a lucky one, in Las Vegas, NV there is a magnet school program (for students with talents, or something...) and so I went to the Technology school (Advanced Technologies Academy).  At our school the administration said we have 1 computer per student, but I was in the tech support class (i fixed computers one period a day and all the teachers would ask me to fix their computers) and I saw all the computers we had in boxes unopened and older (P3 600mhz) sitting around and would say it was closer to 1 1/2 to 2 computers per student.

    Now because we had all these computers didn't mean we used them to our full extent.  We had apx 50 laptops teachers could checkout and use with a wireless access point.  And then our System Technologies Support area (my program area) got a new teacher who totally milked every company he could for free stuff, we got old routers/switches/server from casinos (MGM/Mirage), Foundry donated a $25,000 layer 3 switch, Leviton gave us fiber and tons of cabling parts, we got like 8 brand new racks, Microsoft though didn't give much because they "cannot play favorites with schools"  or so the rep. told us.

    So in conclusion, we had a ton of computers for about 950 students and a lot where new Dell P4 2.6ghz.

    Oh I forgot to mention the best part of the STS program, we would setup the switches and servers and desktops and to test the network we played Halo, Call of Duty,UT2004.  Great Times!

    Jake

  • W3bbo

    EnvyEnvyEnvyEnvyEnvyEnvyEnvyEnvyEnvyEnvyEnvyEnvyEnvyEnvy

  • Shaded

    Ya know I don't care if all the teacher has is a slate of stone and a rock and chisel... if the teacher is talented, they will train and inspire the students.

    The biggest problem with American education is the lack of performance metrics.

    Minimizing class size is as ridiculous as minimizing the number of cars a mechanic can work on.

    Sure air traffic controllers are limited on the amount of time they spend, but if a plane crashed due to their error, do they expect to keep their job?  What happens to a teacher in America when their students fail?  Absolutely nothing.

    Most jobs in America are based on some type of metrics.  Public Education is being dragged kicking and screaming into the age where those who perform and rewarded more than those who are there just to fill a seat.  We've all had our share of teachers that are there to fill a seat.

    If teachers were paid based on their performance you wouldn't see the talent ones complaining about having 60 students.  They would be taking on all they could because they more they teach the more they get paid.

    Is it hard to measure what a child has learned?  Absolutely not.

    So why aren't we getting what we pay for?

    ... ah maybe I shouldn't have got involved in this thread.  I could quite literally go on for hours.

  • NeoTOM

    eagle wrote:

    NeoTom, why don't you tell us about your High School?

    How many computers for how many students?

    Any kids walking around with laptops? Tablet PC's?

    How about the teachers, any of them with laptops? Tablet PC's?



    We're, like, tied for third best in our size in the country in technology...

    http://www.ojrsd.com/news/story.asp?story=559&school=2

  • MasterPi

    Let's see...I live in Massachusetts btw...:

    My highschool(329 students, 50+ faculty/teachers):

    100+ Dell OptiPlexes
    5-6 Digital Projectors
    4-5 Dell Inspiron NoteBooks
    6 Olympus Digital Cameras
    6 Canon Digital Video Cameras (Like $800 each)

    2 Email Servers (running FirstClass)
    2 Development Server
    1 Student Server
    3 DNS machines
    1 Library Server
    (there are a few more servers...don't remember them all)

    6 TV carts

    I think that's it. If I think of anymore, I'll write them.


    Surprisingly, our IT department has a large budget, though, never really uses it. We also have a program where the school buys PCs for students to keep who don't have computers.

    Here's our school website in case you were wondering. It's sucky still, despite a site renovation that greatly improved it.

    Beaver Country Day School

    -mVPstar

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