Monday, January 16, 2006

"Stupid in America" and "Is John Stossel Stupid"

Updated 9/1/06

If you get a chance tonight watch 20/20

John Stossel's 'Stupid in America': Why are U.S. students failing to make the grade? It isn't what you might think. Public vs. Charter Schools & Why is the Teacher Union mad at me?

The ( authors) from Freakonomics (Best selling book for 2 years) also got into the act @

I gave them the heads up too.

He had a similar show back in January that created a fuss. Here was my post.-

"Stupid in America: How We Cheat Our Kids,"
aired Friday 1/13/06 on at 10 p.m.

American students fizzle in international comparisons, placing 18th in reading, 22nd in science and 28th in math — behind countries like Poland, Australia and Korea.

But why?

Are American kids less intelligent?

John Stossel looked at the ways the U.S. public education system cheats students out of a quality. qualityg says … did he really?

The segment started out showing some wild kid dancing, statements by teens that teachers are boring and their school is a hellhole.

Showed another high school playing games instead of learning geography. Told us that no high school that they contacted would let 20/20 in except for two high schools in Washington D.C. One being rated as above average.

Then they started rating USA schools with Belgium schools? Provided a number of Belgium students (speaking English of course) responses that USA students are “stupid” based on an International Test provided by ABC 20/20. Then 20/20 showed some USA Students doubting their schools with choice words.

qualityg says… Belgium? Is that were that dog from Flanders lives?

I thought I might compare Belgium to Michigan.

10.1 million people
250,941 km² - area
Unemployment – 6.6% - 7.0% - second highest in USA, looks good compared to Belgium (however, to compare this figure without all the facts is like… well comparing educational systems).

qg also says… Is comparing United Stated Education System to Belgium really valid? NO, It’s no more valid than comparing Michigan to Belgium. You can take your International Tests and bury them with the other so-called standard tests that are supposed to measure educational learning.

Those who read my posts know that I’m a critic of our educational system for a variety of reasons, but I can’t understand what this program accomplished. Maybe it was to create questions, controversy and thought. That would be OK. I just wish Stossel and crew would have supplied better facts and examples.

The next segment brought the age-old problem “Does more money cure the ills of education.” They showed the traditional buffoons trying to sell their side of the argument.

Then they had the usual debate on one my favorite subjects (education-cooperation-vs-competition.html about creating competition between schools, teachers, etc…

Poor South Carolina (ranked last in USA & 50% dropout rate) took a beating. Thanks for not showing Michigan we get enough poor reporting.

UNIONS vs. ADMINISTRATION round 4,058 of a never-ending fight. ABC & Stossel are clearly in the Administration’s corner.

Mediocrity – I can’t believe Stossel brought the old communist Republic of Russia as a comparison of our educational system. Thanks comrade.

My favorite segment showed the ever successful and greatest living leader in the United States (please bow head) jack welch
(leadership-forbes-ceo-forum). Jack spouts out how he would manage the public sector like GE and get rid of the bottom 10%. Give em a year to get out and they will saith jack.
The problem here is jack and those that follow him don’t stop. Next year it’s another 10%. Are these poor performers too, don’t you eventually hit good performers? Yes you do. This thinking is flawed and dangerous. It has created corporate greed and ethics problems. It is contributing to the continual demise of the American Management system.

The final segments brought up the familiar arguments about how much time American students spend in school compared to other countries, private schools and charter schools (do charter schools get to select who they want to attend their schools? Yes, end of comparison, compare charter schools against other charter schools). Big debate about how charter schools compete with public schools and why can’t there be schools of choice for everyone.

I love it when they get a spokesperson for shutting down poor performing schools, just like business. Look, think of education like a triangle (qualityg’s educational triangle, click to enlarge).

You must have equal representation from Parents, Students and the Administration. If one falls short or if one does all the work the triangle is broken and the student fails. To shut down schools without proper facts and measures is in qualityg’s terms, “stupid.” Most of all until schools start measuring and tracking each student (I don't mean report cards or standard tests) from year to year to develop trends for improvement you will never to be able to measure whether a school is good or bad. So stop all the "stupid" debates.

Stossel kept stating “Competition makes everything better.” Everything means all, c’mon Stossel big time TV guy, even you shouldn’t make such “stupid” comments.

qualityg says … “Stossel sit down and shut up stupid.”

Two Best Learnings of the Program
"The schools are not stupid, the system is stupid."
"Teaching & Learning should be fun."
qg loves to hear "Joy of Learning"

Perhaps as I stated earlier the programs was to get folks ware of the problems we have with education in the United States, that is good. However, to use the same arguments and then to compare Belgium (is that where waffles come from) with us is really – STUPID.

Showing jack welch, as the speaker for all that is good in leadership is, well “STUPID.” You see it was not welch that made GE succeed; it was the employees who did the service and those who had creativity and the products that were sold.

Small Side Note: qg also says... "Manage their own destinies." When I read this I thought of the Noel Tichy and Jack Welch book - "Control Your Own Destiny or Someone Else Will." Anyone who "truly" knows the history of GE's early days. (In the early 1980s he was dubbed "Neutron Jack" (in reference to the neutron bomb). The chapter "the neutron years" in his book says that GE had 411,000 employees at the end of 1980, and 299,000 at the end of 1985. Of the 112,000 that left the payroll, 37,000 were in sold businesses, and 81,000 were reduced in continuing businesses).

When other companies were implementing TQM, GE was removing employees (how come GE didn't use Six Sigma). What Quality folks (especially fly by night consultants) won't admit is in the early 80s to mid 90s many of the leading Quality companies had already removed "low hanging fruit" and identified which processes needed to be fixed. Once you do that you are left with very complex fixes to correct and stabilize processes that were neglected for years.
When GE started the Six Sigma rush in the mid 90s they were removing "low hanging fruit," (read qg's
Low Hanging Fruit) which gave the perception that the other companies quality efforts were all wrong. Now in the mid 2000s go to any of the major Six Sigma related chat rooms and tell me if you are hearing anything different as to why it won't work (i.e., leadership won't support, not producing fast enough results, costs to much to train everyone, mid management feels threatened, and of course teams don't have time to meet because of their "regular" jobs, Blah, Blah Blah!

Why can’t these so-called news reporting shows provide us examples of what is good in our educational system and then try and convince us to learn from what works, instead of always telling us why we are so bad. It’s just like in business, too many concentrate and try to fix what is wrong. The cheaper, shorter and more efficient way is to replicate what is right and stop doing what is wrong.

Hey Stossel, give me a break, read your own book. STUPID


Anonymous said...

This sure was a controversial show. The comparisons as you stated seemed one-sided against teachers. However, I do agree with a lot what was said.

When I visit my daughters High School I see kids running around, foul language and no discipline.


Anonymous said...

I saw the show too, some good points but overall Stossel was to opinionated.


qualityg says said...

Lois & Jason,

Thanks for your comments. I like John Stossel's reporting I just think he missed the mark with this special.

If he was hoping to create a stir then he accomplished his mission. If he was hoping to make a change in education --> he failed. We need change/solutions not opinions/poor facts.


Anonymous said...

Great Post QualityG!

I saw your entry on the Freakonomics Blog.

John (not Stossel)