Law in Contemporary Society
A friend and I recently got into a discussion / argument recently over education reform. It all started when I scoffed at the fact that prospective grade school teachers who lacked a degree specifically in "education" needed to take an three extra semesters of education (get a Masters).

My argument was that if person A went to undergraduate school B, a respected, accredited American university and did reasonably well but majored in something than education, then that person should be not have to borrow more money just to attend another year and a half to two years of school to get the necessary qualifications to teach. The current requirements are in many ways, too burdensome. Not to rely on anecdotes, but, I have multiple friends who excelled in undergrad, got honors, wrote theses, etc. who wanted to become teachers but cannot (at least not immediately) because of the hoops and hurdles involved in entering the system. At least one will not become a teacher any time in the near future because of them. To be sure, I'm not in favor of a simple standardized test that tests nothing but your ability to take that test. But, I think that an alternative combination of a test and a shorter more affordable certificate program possibly coupled with an evaluation period or apprenticeship may be sufficient. (Teach For America aside)

Predictably, she countered with a legitimate point: we want to be producing "excellent" teachers and therefore we should make sure our teacher's are well-qualified. My counter-argument is the following: we should be producing average teachers. It is a classic pragmatism vs. idealism argument. The system, in my opinion (as most of this is), is right now contaminated with bad teachers. In an ideal world, I'd love to produce excellent teachers who care about their students, all the way from K to law school. But, needless to say, even at Columbia Law School, there are bad instructors/educators (to be differentiated from professor). Given that, and given that the problem is especially chronic and far more damaging to society in the grade school region, I think it is more important to loosen some hurdles to the profession, open the door a little more, and try to flood the system with more "average" teachers. Increase the competitiveness of the teacher profession by allowing more applicants. I'd rather have a large boat of students receiving their education from "average" teachers than a smaller group of students (inevitably, students who are privileged like y.t. in nicer school districts) receive their education from "excellent" teachers. Many perfectly average teachers are barred from the system for at least a year, often forever, by excessive hurdles.

Her response to my comment was that she agreed that we should increase demand for the profession--and that we shouldn't loosen standards but instead we should pay teachers more (what can I say, she is at the Teacher's College). She also said that we should pay teachers to teach in poorer school districts. It sounded like straight from the mouth of the democratic party, or something, because my reply was met with complete silence: Where is the ****ing money? We can't just throw money at a problem, like everything else, and expect it to go away. This is a theme that will be revisited.

The direction of the conversation then took a drastic turn when I made a controversial, shall I say, ballsy argument: Too many people are going to college.

"Keeping up with the Joneses," over-education, positional externality, whatever you want to call it, it is hardly an original argument and I haven't read nearly enough on it to make me any kind of authority. Nevertheless, I find the argument compelling and unconsidered in the debate on education reform (at all levels). The main economic argument behind this idea is that because too many people have BAs, many people need to get advanced degrees to be competitive for jobs that may not even require the skills and knowledge needed for any college degree. In economics, this is deemed inefficient--people are spending time in school getting an education which does not contribute to that person's ability to carry out their future job. And, that person could have spend some or all of the time spent in school working. But this "Keeping up with the Joneses" effect preserves and create a strong demand for a product (higher ed) that maybe should not be there.

Here is an essential article I refer to about many of the perversities in our education system:

We talk about how many of the aspects of law school are broken, especially how it is prohibitively expensive. Many, if not all of the pressures of law school, the fears and anxieties, comes from debt incurred to attend school in the first place and debt left over from undergrad / life. But I'd argue that it all starts with a grade school / college system that is hopelessly broken in its financial structure, trapped in a cycle of rising access to credit to "illusory money" (anything that pays off tuition that doesn't exist in a bank account), increased demand, and rising tuition. ...

Some links: (comparative graph to housing / healthcare) (2005-2023 projected)

An important observation that will be discussed later: most of the "increased tuition" burden is from private schools, not public.

Like mortgages were in the first decade of this century, student-loan debt and the dramatic rise of college costs seems to be the elephant in the room that nobody seems to see. Or, continually turns a blind eye to. Or sees, ignores, and relies on current financial structures to sweep the problem under the rug. And, I think the problem starts because too many people are going to college. Let me first dispose of the notion that I don't think we should subsidize education for anyone. I think its absolutely important to make higher education accessible to people of all classes and I would favor a progressive pricing structure. But, there are two caveats to my belief that may come off the wrong way.

First, I'm truly undecided as to whether private schools should be subsidized. Private schools serve an important function but are more expensive and presumably, for most students there is a cheaper, less-expensive, public option that is beyond adequate. Much of the pricing problem of private education could be solved if we encouraged more enrollment in public schools, and I mean that for people of every class. If more people enrolled in public schools, the quality of the institution could increase. There are other benefits (and detriments) of incentivizing public enrollment that I won't get into any more. I do know that there are systems overseas that rely on public education more, are drastically cheaper, that have their own pros and cons.

Second, accessibility is important but many financial aid programs aren't fairly implemented. My undergrad school is a great example: many students who came from poor backgrounds had their education fully subsidized, but, one of my friends boyfriend had to drop out because his parents made in excess of $100,000 and thus could not qualify for financial aid and had to drop out. The structure of the rules that determine aid, in my opinion, are often simply unacceptable and don't actually make college more accessible except to the very poorest of the poor. In this situation, aid was overwhelmingly based on income and number of kids in college but was not as focused on other forms of debt incurred by the parents (mortgage). What compounded this problem was that this guy's parents lived in a metropolitan area where $100,000 wasn't worth that much. Parents who earn $75,000 could very well be better off. My issue, here, is that the bright line rules of financial aid don't often take into account these descrepancies and an individuals personal situation. Which is a significant problem for me, because, isn't the whole point of financial aid and increasing accessibility to consider one's personal situation (I realize a secondary goal is to increase socio-economic diversity of the incoming class). This is why I'm strongly opposed to “need blind” admissions. Why should a thing like personal circumstance not count in determining the price of school but count in determining access to the school? Is it too burdensome for financial aid offices to review applicants backgrounds as well? Frankly, I feel like offers of admission should be more like a market place, with, personalized offers to each candidate. In my opinion, a scholarship should be a synthesis of merit and need and should not be separate processes as they always are.

But, let me underscore the importance of some sort of financial subsidation program: As Dr. Moglen has said countless times in class, there are millions in the world who are smarter than us who will not get to sniff higher education. To sum, I have less of a problem with the idea of financial aid but more of a problem with the implementation of it, the how and where aspects of its distribution (which, I should mention, schools have a perverse incentive from US News to distribute).

The main problem I have with subsidation is that it doesn't do anything to solve the structural problem of higher ed. It is a temporary solution at best. Why are we are dealing with a structural issue by throwing more money at the problem. Sound familiar? In other words, subsidizing education and making education accessible for the poor is a good thing. And in the short term, it makes education more accessible. However, I believe that these policies make college less accessible for the lower 99%, strictly on a tuition basis. Which, in turn, exacerbates class differences that made college less accessible to begin with.

I think the perfect example example is law school. In 1980, tuition for UPenn was $6,000. By 1988, tuition broke $13,000. Today, its more than triple. I haven't done the research extensively and don't have numbers (which is somewhat irresponsible of me) but, I'd hypothesize that tuition and first year salaries run somewhat parallel. Because, lets be honest—people are only comfortable taking out a lot of debt if there is some promise of paying that debt off. And the prospective debt becomes more enticing and stomachable when salaries keep going up. I know, personally, if not for Columbia's employment stats and LRAP that I would not have taken on any debt whatsoever.

She did present a compelling counter-arguments to my rant. Education should not be strictly about economic needs and preparing people for jobs. There is a value in simply educating more people, for example, more educated voters.

First, the higher education system at many schools sucks. College professors are more focused on publishing their material. In around 50% of my classes not taught by TAs, my professors in college were worth the money and 25% of them had no business going near a classroom. I could write another post about how "good teachers" get weeded out of the academic system. Sometimes, I was better off reading a book. I also categorically reject that higher education creates more educated voters, or does so in any significan way.

Second, I agree, some people go to college and learn a ton. But, I think this argument is somewhat marred by the fact that we are the one's making it. By and large, we learn and were "enlightened." But for every one of us, there are countless others who went to an undergraduate school that doesn't have a lavish club in midtown New York and did not receive such enlightenment at all. Or, as the Leonhardt article points out, there are many undergraduate students who don't graduate half their students. A particularly on-point passage: "The United States does a good job enrolling teenagers in college, but only half of students who enroll end up with a bachelor’s degree. Among rich countries, only Italy is worse. That’s a big reason inequality has soared, and productivity growth has slowed."

Does this shock you? It shocked me, fairly predictably. Within my insulated place in the world, I reside in an insulated sliver of American education (both during undergrad, and now at a top law school). Neither I, nor most if any of the readers of this wiki go to these schools and its hard to fathom drop-out rates in excess of 50%. This fac formed the basis of one of my counter arguments to my friend. To put it rather brusquely: What good is it to incentivize college for people if people are not even finishing it? Not everyone is suited for college. Of course, there are other explanations for the drop-out rate which focus on the structure of higher education (the service) and not the individual attending it (consumer) that I think are not only correct but account for a substantial majority of the drop out rates. But given that the system is shown to be empirically broken, the question remains _Why should we, either through subsidization financially as taxpayers or full-tuition payers, or in other ways such as propaganda (e.g. high school guidance counselors forcing four year college down throats) relentlessly incentivize and encourage people to dive headfirst into a system that is broken when that person may not be prepared for the reality that awaits them?

People that drop-out of four year colleges (often to no fault of their own), are, in some ways analogous to people who walk away from their mortgages (and in many ways are radically different). And, these individuals form a substantial part of the problem: they create part of the "demand" for the product of higher education but never receive the final product. Thus, prospective drop-outs form a large contingent of the demand that creates the rise in tuition for 4-year college (re: because people "can" pay for it).

The article also presents one of the key aspects of the broken system: inadequate pre-college education. I cannot agree more. But its not just inadequate high school education, but an inadequate job of educating students with legitimate, non-college options (e.g. trade school) and a stigma carried by community colleges.

I think a large part of the solution is pushing community colleges, not for affordability reasons, but because for many it is the practical solution. For some, it is sufficient for their career goals. For others, it is simply more affordable. And for others, it is best suited for them and their capabilities. But to be honest, I'm at a loss. I do know that throwing money at the problem is not going to work and that we do not need to encourage students to leverage themselves more.

Should a 4-year degree be a prerequisite for law school? Could 2 years be sufficient?

I'm very interested in input, even if its slight. Please take apart and eviscerate my argument.

-- MatthewZorn - 07 Feb 2010

Hey Matt -- interesting discussion, here's my input:

I see no reason why getting a teacher's certification should be made easier for those people who've already attended a four-year college and presumably have had the chance to take the required education courses. If money is an issue, affordable state school programs are available. Great point. However, there is a time value to money.

There is also the option of teaching at private schools, which have lower hiring standards. Ultimately, I don't think flooding the market with "average" teachers would make a marked difference, in that there are limited openings in the unionized field and I suspect that demand for employment in low-income school districts with higher turnover rates would remain low. Again, great point about the unionization. However, I do think there is a rejoinder here: if there are limited openings, then, relaxing applicant "hurdles" could in theory produce better hires (because there is more to choose from, increased competition).

On the other hand, "throwing money" at schools, by allowing for better supplies, facilities, and lower student-to-teacher ratios would actually make a much bigger impact on the quality of public education. Furthermore, I don't think indicia of upper-level academic success is the true measure of teaching ability, particularly for young children. I would argue that one of the big problems with programs like Teach for America is that they tend to select high-achieving students over those students that are more dedicated to childhood education and teaching as a long-term profession. Furthermore, if a prospective teacher considers student-teaching, an important part of certification programs, a "hurdle," perhaps it's best that she doesn't teach. They don't consider it a hurdle. I do.

On your other argument, I agree that too many people are attending college, given the number of students who are dropping out or who are merely floating through the system. This documentary provides an interesting snapshot of the problem (which is also on Netflix instant play if you're interested):

-- EricaSelig - 07 Feb 2010

I saw two major threads/points in the OP, 1) Reforming the elementary/secondary education system so that more kids are getting a quality education, 2) Reforming the post-secondary education system so that it is more efficient, in the sense that the money spent is going towards learning the skills necessary to get a monetary return on your investment. Obviously, these threads are intertwined, for example, if students come out of high school unable to do basic mathematics, they are going to be at a disadvantage when they try to get into an engineering program. I'll respond to the first section.

Teaching involves more than knowledge of the material. Classroom management, understanding of the child's psyche, diplomacy, the drive to help children (sometimes in the face of enormous resistance from the community/parents), and the ability to develop an engaging curriculum are, in my mind, much more important than a thorough understanding of the material, except for the most advanced classes in the later years of school or technical/trade classes. These are skills you cannot learn by just getting a history, English, math, or science bachelor's degree. When it comes to elementary/junior high education, I would much rather have a teacher with excellent classroom management skills who graduated middle of the class at a state school than a teacher with average management skills who received a 4.0 from Harvard.

This is a gross misrepresentation of my point. I'm not suggesting that excellent academic credentials should override every requirement. Besides, I think "classroom management" classes can only teach so much. Perhaps, I should use an analogy: Surely its important to read books about chemistry in order to be a decent chemist. But, you can't learn chemistry unless you enter the lab and do some hands on work. You could read book after book knowing the chemical structures of fancy compounds but until you practice in the lab, you won't be any good. And, for those who are particularly bright, they won't need as much time to read books before entering the labs. This is the crux of my argument: there may be bright people who want to be teachers who should not have to spend as much time on the "book" side of training and actually need to enter the classroom, in some capacity.

Your analogy drastically oversimplifies my point. I never said that the person without an education degree would necessarily be bad at managing students or that an education degree ensured success in this regard, and I know there are probably plenty of those bright people out there that could be great teachers without an education masters. In my experience, however, nothing I was taught in any of my classes in high school/college would have prepared me to teach children, and a lot of bright people, brightness being measured in the traditional way (grades and test scores) could never explain those concepts to a child, deal with the 4 or 5 "problem kids" in the class, or handle bureaucracy, parents, and the special interest groups (which I know is inherent in most jobs, but is greatly amplified in the American public school system).

Never have I advocated that good grades should act as a complete substitute for a certification requirement. I have merely advocated that the certification requirement should be less burdensome than it currently is for people with better grades / test scores. Better grades being an indication of how "bright" someone is and their ability to absorb the material. Perhaps there are skills that need to be learned beyond a 4 year degree, and let us make the giant assumption that these skills are actually teachable (like we have been assuming): does it really need to be 3-4 semesters for everyone? That is the question I want answered. Because I am not advocating good grades as a complete substitute for certification, I don't want to see the argument drift that direction.)

Education degrees are the currently accepted way of identifying people who are committed to teaching kids. These schools try to teach skills to improve teachers' understanding of pedagogy. They may not always be effective, and I agree that a properly designed apprenticeship program would be more effective.

Actually, education degrees may not be effective at all. "Current acceptance" seems like a weak argument to me. To me, it appears that "more education" is the status quo and there is an incredible bias against anyone who even suggests that less education could actually better. Also, sometimes more education makes someone less qualified. But, I'll check that idea at the door for now

In your OP, however, you seemed to imply that your friends were concerned that they could not immediately get teaching jobs with their BA's. Under any system- education degree or apprenticeship program, we should not let them become teachers until some years after college because even one year under a poor teacher can really set children back relative to their peers, you can see this in schools with multiple sections of certain classes who then go on to take standardized tests in those courses.

I don't think that point is debatable--that a bad teacher can set someone back years. However, it is missing my point a little. Ideally, every teacher would be a good one. Pragmatically, we want the "least bad" teachers. There are currently some really bad teachers in the system. Let us try to weed them out by increasing competition. I realize union problems (as stated above) would make it difficult to fire teachers. However, another consequence of increased competition is that the union will not be as strong. At any rate, I still haven't seen a pretty good indicator of why "some years after college" is necessary to produce average teachers. Keep in mind, there are other filtering mechanisms in place (and other less burdensome filtering mechanisms that can be put in place) such that not every BA can become a teacher.

Yes, because standardized test scores actually measure anything other than someone's ability to take the test (cue Eben's entry). Of course, I realize that I have been advocating it as an education substitute, so this could be turned against me. I think test scores are a bad, but less bad metric when considered as a supplementary metric. As a primary metric in American education its detestable because of the various incentive programs we have to make teachers teach to the test.

Under an apprentice system, they would probably have to work longer hours than most teachers (classroom time plus education courses to explain and supplement what they are seeing in the field), and would be paid less than the average first-year teacher (I am thinking something like med school). Would these students, who don't want to spend 2 years getting a masters, do a 3-4 year apprenticeship without a guarantee of a job afterwards? I would fully support such a system if education is ready to evolve in this direction.

Why does it have to be 3-4 years? Why can't the apprentice program be 2 years? My argument is that hands on training may be MORE useful than coursework and that coursework would be better as a supplement. And, in the case of a 2 year paid apprentice vs. 2 year masters, I think a lot of people will be choosing the former.

The other problem with the apprenticeship program is politics, getting the parents, administrators, politicians, teachers, on board. If this could be done, I see no reason why education masters degrees could not subsumed into apprenticeship programs (rather than the other way around). Figuring out how to get these groups to work together, however, is another matter.

I agree, for the most part. The education system is just like any other. Because we exist in the system that no other alternative system could be better.

I am not familiar with UG/Graduate education programs but they should be teaching child/teen psychology, communications/public speaking (including non-verbal communication which young children respond to much more), political science (to understand how decisions about budgeting get made), sociology, history of education, etc. etc. Failing that, we would need a lengthy apprenticeship program, which would place more of the burden on schools and may not produce effective results in all cases. Would people want to spend two or three years figuring out if they had the skills to control a classroom of 30-40 children?

I had a math teacher in high school who was probably the most brilliant person on the faculty. He worked for years in the private sector and held a number of patents. He'd quit his job after he made enough money and took a teaching position so he could have summers off and travel around the country on his bike. He did crazy stuff like try and get on game shows, and was generally (I thought) an interesting person. The first class I had with him was Trig, and the class was a madhouse. The problem was that his classroom management was awful. He let the students walk all over him. Years in the private sector made him accustomed to a certain level of professionalism that just didn't exist at a large public high school. Additionally, he confided that he was frustrated at the constant politicking involved in every aspect of the school life (we had a school system that approved budgets based on an anachronistic city-wide popular vote). I took Stats with him the next year, and class was marginally better, however, his teaching style seemed better suited for a college level course for students majoring in the material than an intro course for HS students.

The problem is not to produce either excellent or average teachers but to figure out what the "excellent" teachers are doing right and design a program to get the average teachers to adopt those methods, or encourage more people with the skills and drive of the excellent teachers to go into teaching. We also need to remove political and bureaucratic barriers to successful innovations as the Jaime Escalante case illustrates. _To the degree that the skills and techniques excellent teachers have are teachable, I agree. That said, there are techniques that teachers may be using which cannot be replicated in other teachers.

In regards to teacher pay, this is something that needs to literally be evaluated on a district by district basis. Some districts have high pay but still poor results, including NYC. When you get out to the suburbs where property taxes determine the money available for the school system, you are going to find differences based on income. In my home state of MA, the public school systems with the highest average SAT scores are the Boston commuter suburbs with the wealthiest people. I've heard the argument that more accomplished people = smarter people = smarter kids, but that seems to me like wood-paneled smoking room rhetoric. It would be interesting to find a study that looked at the SAT scores of lower-income kids in wealthier communities to see if they are higher because of the improved facilities/better paid teachers.

-- JonathanWaisnor - 08 Feb 2010

Are too many people going to college? I think the answer is yes, given what "college" means in today's language. A large number of people - not all, but a large number (mostly liberal arts graduates that do not touch any math or science) - do not really do any work in college and even if they do, they learn almost nothing that is applicable to their post-graduation jobs. For these people, college is simply a very, very expensive four-year vacation.

One might argue that a liberal arts educations improves writing ability. True, but then let's append a year to the end of high school in which professors teach us university-level writing. Maybe that's not the best idea - but there has to be something out there that is more cost-effective than the current college system.

If a job does not require a college degree, then employers have no reason to require one. I have no idea how, but let's end the illusion that a "college graduate" is anything more than a 22-year-old with a piece of paper. I completely agree

To go back to your original point regarding teachers, I myself was a teacher for two years, but I never got a teaching degree. Instead I worked abroad in schools that did not require teaching degrees. What I learned from this is that teaching, like many jobs, can be learned on-the-job from experience. I was not very effective when I began, but after two-years I basically knew what I was doing. I also learned that teaching is all about individual styles. I observed other teachers from time to time and every one was extremely different in what she chose to stress or in how she organized her activities. I am not sure how much better off I would have been with an education degree. I observed both teachers with and without education degrees, however, and I did not notice a huge difference in the effectiveness of the two groups or any real difference in classroom management skills between the two groups, on average. Thank you for this comment. I feel like you touch on two of the main points I am advocating: (1) the value of on-the-job experience (2) how "education" can only teach so much (i.e. the "basics") and beyond that people will have individual styles. In fact, it makes me think that generic MA programs that teach standardized may in some ways impair one's effectiveness as a teacher.

-- ChristopherCrismanCox - 08 Feb 2010

Yes, there are serious problems with colleges. Should they be more rigorous? Yes. Are they getting stagnant in their approach to education? Yes. But it seems like you’re attempting to use these facts as cover for a radical approach to higher education.

“Not everyone is suited for college.”

Fine – yeah, that’s tough to argue with. But what would the actual impact of taking such a stance be? You mention encouraging community colleges over 4 year degrees, since that will meet some people’s career goals. Sounds Great! Once we design a system with high schools that actually give students a well-rounded, solid education, that allows them to fully understand what their options are, and that gives them the capacity to make informed choices about where they want to end up in life, I say let’s go for it. In the mean time, let us perpetuate the cycle of rising tuition

But until that happens, I have a feeling that the people who end up looking “suited” for college are going to be the ones whose parents went to college. The ones who end up looking “unsuited” for college are more likely going to be the ones whose parents didn’t. This is already largely the case, to the detriment of both the individuals and the community at large. Making it official policy seems pretty disturbing to me. Again, gross distortion of my argument. Though, perhaps a bad use of language on my part. When I say "unsuited" what I mean is people who don't need to go to college to achieve their goals. I recognize though, that many people do not know what they want to do before going to college. Besides, the long term implications of implicitly discouraging higher education is to make it more affordable.

And what would have happened if we took that stance earlier in the 20th century when we decided to open the doors to education to veterans? We probably wouldn’t be looking at a recognizable America today. And I’m sure a lot of those folks didn’t look “suited” for college, and I’m sure it cost a lot of money, and I’m sure some went to some not-so-great institutions. But I think we’re better off in the long term. This point is debatable and I perceive a bit of outcome bias here. But, generally speaking the G.I. bill had a lot of positive effects--it was also a dramatically different situation. WWII was a point in time where people were undereducated due to the draft.

Again, yes, there are some serious problems with the college education system. But I don’t see problems with some aspects of the system as grounds for making another broken area even worse.

-- PaulSmith - 09 Feb 2010

For what it's worth, we already provide public subsidies to students attending private universities. Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, etc.

On the larger issues, I agree with Paul.

The notion that "too many people" are attempting higher education doesn't sit well with me. If someone wants to go to college, let them.If they drop out after a year and never receive a degree, why is that a bad thing? A fellow citizen gained a year of education. Its a bad thing because, under our current system, it makes college cost more. It is bad for the same reason that passing legislation making houses affordable to everyone through massive debt is bad. It makes housing prices skyrocket and then forces more leveraging. Eventually bubble bursts. In the mean time, I feel like the middle class gets the shaft (lower class does too).

The health of a democracy rests upon the education of its citizenry. We fund public libraries. We fund public primary education. We do so for good reasons. A participatory democracy requires a literate public, and benefits from thoughtful and discerning voters. Thinning the ranks of higher education is a poor way to make it more efficacious. If demand is high, we should devote greater resources as a society to maintain its quality. In short, let's throw some more money at the problem. This frustrates me because it only compounds the problem and makes education less affordable. If we throw more money at the problem in the form of debt availability, subsidies, etc. it only makes it less possible for the middle class to afford tuition. I think there is a good middle ground which was stated by Erica, which is, promote state schools. Nevertheless, does anyone really think that college degrees make for a more educated citizenry? Here is the problem: to get into college in the first place you have to be literate (unless you are one of 30 people on the FSU football team). Thus, colleges, though ideally create a more educated citizenry, in reality only widens the current education gap. Higher education only educates the educated. The benefits of college vis-a-vis "education of its citizenry" is given to the people who need it the least. Higher education has its purpose, but in reality its not to educate the citizenry.

P.S. I realize my post about education/democracy is vulnerable to a number of critiques, especially regarding the ease of voter manipulation, voter apathy, the poor state of our current public education system in meeting its theoretical goals, etc. I'll let someone else take up the mantle of poking holes in idealism tonight.

-- RonMazor - 10 Feb 2010

Hey Matthew, Appreciate the substantive feedback. I’m going to put the actual issue-debate to the side for this post, since Eben has talked about how these forums are also supposed to help shape our writing itself.

I know this post was meant more as a discussion generator than a polished work, but I think some editing, cleaning, and tightening could help clarify a lot of the arguments you’re making.

I see roughly five main ideas: 1. Easier access to the teaching profession 2. Not everyone should go to college 3. The way we finance college education is broken 4. College Education systems themselves are broken 5. Pre-college education is broken

All of these ideas definitely interact with each other, but these interactions (and the role of some of your proposed solutions) seem to get muddled together in the post as it currently stands. Other folks might disagree, but I think some broader organization would help me understand exactly what you’re addressing at each point. Even if you disagree with compartmentalizing different sections of the post, I still think providing more guidance to the bigger-picture arc you’re shaping would be helpful. As it is I feel like there’s a good chance that in debating, we’ll end up arguing right past each other.

I’ll dive back into the substantive issues when I’ve had some more sleep. Hope I'm not misconstruing a purpose of the wiki.

-- PaulSmith - 11 Feb 2010

I don't think my last comment stuck. At any rate, feedback regarding style is always appreciated. Style is far more important than substance. I'll try to tighten this up a little this weekend. I realize its a little muddy.

-- MatthewZorn - 11 Feb 2010

I agree with Matt's comments on teaching. Before coming to law school, I taught for two years at a private high school in Manhattan. I saw firsthand that while public schools' requiring certification may sound like a great way to ensure teacher quality, its actual effect is to push excellent teachers into the private sector. There are more efficient and less prohibitive ways of controlling for quality in teachers, such as the system of evaluation that Matt discusses. And ultimately, passion and expertise mean a lot more in teaching than does a degree in education.

-- SamHershey - 12 Feb 2010



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