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    A WA parent, RickF, Mick Costigan, beGalileo, oliviaerin
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    Joined: Apr 2014
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    aeh Offline
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    The irony is that it likely costs less money long-term--but more work in the mid-term--to improve instruction and conditions in low-performing schools. Not to go off on too much of a tangent here, but the added costs to society of decreased productivity alone offset the false savings of not investing in effective K-12 education for everyone. And this is without even getting into the significant increased costs that result from social services over a lifetime for adults who aren't able to access jobs with living wages, or the even more dicey conversation regarding costs to society from increased crime (where there is a long-standing negative correlation between both literacy and high school completion, and involvement in the criminal justice system).

    The quality (or lack) of K-12 general STEM education also has real-life implications even for those who finish their STEM education at grade 12. Exhibit A: public response to the pandemic.


    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...
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    ^^Aeh, you're spot on. I remembered reading the Atlantic article you linked a while back and found it informative.

    The line that pays for the skim-readers in our group is:

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    "The scholars determined that the obvious challenges faced by low-income Black and Latino students were poverty and poor K12 education."

    It's worth a review of the source research commissioned by the UC senate for those interested in evidence-based EDI work.

    https://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/_files/committees/sttf/sttf-report.pdf

    And yes - education pays dividends. I ran some quick simulations for Canada, and the economic multiplier on public education spending is 1.33. Translated, that means $1 invested in education generates $1.33 of real GDP for the Canadian economy each year. This compares with $1.08 for every dollar invested in the average of all Canadian industries.

    You read that right. The ROI on education is 4 times that of investing in the economy as a whole - returns that, if sustained, would satisfy hedge fund managers. And that's an underestimate, because it doesn't fully factor in opportunity costs and foregone risk. The US would have similar returns.

    Low educational quality is not a resource constraint problem. It's a resource ALLOCATION one.

    Politics and social views shouldn't matter to one's agreement with this - it is so absurdly clear on a financial level that no moral appeal is required.

    Making outstanding quality K-12 instruction universally available would more than self-finance, and the returns of doing so would far exceed the value of alternate investments of public funds.


    What is to give light must endure burning.
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    Kai Offline
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    Originally Posted by aquinas
    Im appreciating Wrens post here - low standards and lack of parental demand for rigor being the problem, reinforced by a lack of advanced STEM teaching credentials.

    ...

    Achievement requires rigor and discipline - in any field.

    I am currently working toward a second bachelor's degree in math after having taught K-12 math to my own children and high school algebra to other people's children. I literally failed every math class I took in junior high and high school, so I had to relearn math as an adult from the bottom up in order to teach it properly.

    My point is that I am continually astounded at just how much needs to go right in a kid's math education for them to be truly successful in, say, multivariable calculus. You need proper instruction and regular practice year after year after year with no significant gaps. You need someone forcing you to pay attention to the concepts rather than just default to pattern matching. You need to see how it all fits together. You need to learn how to learn difficult material and how to deal with the fact that you will be wrong again and again and again.

    I agree with Wren and aquinas that culture is the problem. You have a school culture that that thinks that math should be fun and defaults to putting kids in the slower, easier track at the first sign of trouble. You have a family culture that isn't willing to ensure that kids get the instruction and practice they need day after day, year after year. And you have a national culture that does not value what it takes to succeed in STEM, even as its members crave all of the technological goodies that derive from it.

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    Originally Posted by Kai
    My point is that I am continually astounded at just how much needs to go right in a kid's math education for them to be truly successful in, say, multivariable calculus. You need proper instruction and regular practice year after year after year with no significant gaps. You need someone forcing you to pay attention to the concepts rather than just default to pattern matching. You need to see how it all fits together. You need to learn how to learn difficult material and how to deal with the fact that you will be wrong again and again and again.
    One reason I had my children attend Russian School of Math through middle school was to increase the chance they would be in the top track in math. So far it has worked, although it probably was unnecessary for the eldest.

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    I think any strong math instruction should allow for most children, capable of calculus, to go further. You have to do multivariable calculus in engineering.

    I don't think the general population of parents will push. It is also same attitude about CS. DD's school is a private academic. Most kids took the first AP CS course in python. They don't pursue the second AP CS course in java. DD now is so involved in CS, she knows 7 languages. She does free lance CS jobs and makes a good amount of money doing it.

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    Originally Posted by Wren
    I think any strong math instruction should allow for most children, capable of calculus, to go further. You have to do multivariable calculus in engineering.

    Well, yes, I suppose that would be the idea. The point is that getting that strong instruction and necessary practice consistently for 12 years is not what is happening in many (most?) schools in the US.

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