Articles, Blog

Dr. David C. Berliner – Myths & Lies that Threaten America’s Public Schools

August 31, 2019


We’re gonna get started right on time. Welcome to this year’s [INAUDIBLE]
Corporate Charters lecture. It is such an honor for [INAUDIBLE] pleasure [INAUDIBLE].>>[LAUGH]
>>[INAUDIBLE] Not me but I need to say that’s just somebody [INAUDIBLE] for a very long time. He is Regents’ Professor Emeritus
at Arizona State University. During his career he’s
taught at many universities. I’m not gonna name them all. I just wanted to say a few things. He is a member of
the National Academy of Education, which is probably our
highest honor in this field. The International Academy [INAUDIBLE] and a fellow of a Center for
the Advance Study the Behavioral Sciences. He was President of the American
Educational Research Association and President of the Vision 15 of
the American Psychological Association. What I really wanted to say really
quickly is that David Berliner is one of those people who is
not afraid to speak truths and call out truths and that’s something
that has meant so much to me. I’ve heard him speak for
the first time a long, long time ago and I never forgot it because he talks about what is going on in the world of
education and really asks people. In research, in practice, and
in policy to confront realities, to confront social realities, to solve and
think about policy realities. And in the end, to think about what really
is the best thing that we can do for children and
adolescents to help them learn better. So it is my honor and
privilege welcome to [INAUDIBLE].>>[APPLAUSE]
>>Thank you so much to everyone who invited me and it’s my pleasure to be
here to see old friends, meet new ones. It’s such a gracious introduction. I said that I could talk without
a microphone, am I reaching over there? Is that all right? Okay. I guess the room is small enough. And I tilted this way cuz I
have to read some slides. So I have to be able to look at them. This is to share some ideas from
a book we wrote two years ago, now called 50 Myths and Lies that
Threaten America’s Public Schools. Let me make sure, whoops,
it’s showing there but not there. Let’s see, let me go back. There we are. Okay, I should be able to do it now. There, okay. That’s the book Gene Glass and I wrote with 19 of our students,
which was fun to do. We used the Al Franken model. If you don’t know that,
Al Franken decided to leave comedy and join a bigger comedy show, the senate. And he wanted to write a book and
he thought he better have his facts check. So we hired about seven Harvard doctoral
students and said I’ll pay your tuition. You check everything that I’m saying. I want to say these things,
but I want to be right. And so we went to a bunch of students and
said here’s what we want to say. Make sure we’re right and
you do some of it. So we wrote the book
with 19 of our students. The book is only two years old and
I present some things on it, but I decided for you to present the new
Trump edition of the myths and lies. And I don’t know your politics and
I don’t care about your politics. But we believe when we wrote our book,
that people who lie should be confronted. So I don’t care about your politics,
but liars need to be called out. For many years, Gene and I had complained about all
the misinformation we were hearing. All the dismissal of research that we saw,
really stupid ideas, pseudo-scholarship that
we saw turned into law. Two events in particular motivated us. One of them was the Bush administration
when they passed the no child left behind, NCLB law, in which every kid in
the USA was to become proficient. A level defined is something
well above average. No child left behind was to have every
student in America above average by 2014. Perhaps that happened in Ohio, but
in my state we’re still waiting for every kid to be above average. More interesting to Gene and
me was that about 500 federal legislators signed onto a bill whose
requirement was impossible to meet. That is it’s impossible to get 50% above
average since the meaning of average is the middle somewhere, you know? So what does this say about the education of legislators since they all signed a
bill that’s absolutely impossible to meet? I talked to one of them. He said it’s an aspirational goal. Well, come on.>>[LAUGH]
>>Anyway, this says something bizarre about the mathematical and statistical
skills of those we elect to office. But our ignorant legislators
did it again under Obama. You can see I’m an equal opportunity
disliker of politicians. They gave rise to this second
event which is motivated us and that was the Obama administration
support of value added assessment VAMs. Put your state is guarding to I
think quiet heavily at times. And this is the requirement to use student
test scores and evaluation of teachers. You tried them here I think and most but
not all of you buckeyes learned what we have all learned mainly that
VAMs are really junk science. Terribly unreliable, probably because of the hundreds of
valriables that affect the classrooms and cannot be represented in the equations
used to determine competency. They’re the biggest problem that
economists who love them have to face. These variables go by the name
of exogenous variables, variables that effect the phenomena
that economists like to study. But they’re unaccounted for in their
equations because the economists say, well, we don’t know how to measure those,
so we leave them out. Okay, but what if they’re important? Well, we don’t know that. Okay, strikes me you’re gonna have
something peculiar to look at then. So this makes the equations
that they use unreliable and because of the unreliability,
we have a validity problem with VAMs. The national council of measurement and
education, the Margret and educational research association. The Margret psychological association
standards of practice all say you cannot use a VAM for
an important decision. You wanna use it for information or
hold a conversation, fine. You want to do anything else with it, you’re probably violating the standards
of our professional group. Furthermore, you probably
don’t know this but there isn’t a single North American test
that shows instructional sensitivity. By instructional sensitivity, at something
I’ve been working on Jim Popham for so many years. We’re talking about an inference about
teachers made from a test score. But if you’re gonna make an inference
about teachers from a test score, then you have to be sure that if the unit
taught for which an item is relevant. It’s taught by the greatest
teacher in the State of Ohio. The passing score of that
item would go up, right? I mean the item typically has a 50%
pass rate on a standardized test. 50% fail it, 50% pass it. Somewhere near there is how
you build a standardized test. If the best teacher in
Ohio taught a unit for which those items are relevant,
shouldn’t the pass score go up? You want to make an inference about good
teaching, then the item has to move. That’s instructional sensitivity, there isn’t a single test in the United
States that’s ever tested that, none. So I’m not saying it’s wrong
that the item didn’t change, I’m saying we don’t know and people like
Pearson won’t spend the money to find out. We told them how to do it but
they said Too expensive. Furthermore, okay. Because of and other dysfunctional
schemes to improve our schools. Jean and I finally said, let’s write a book and let’s take certain
folks and certain to be our guide. So Thomas Jefferson said, ridicule is the only weapon that can be
used against unintelligible propositions. Now that means one of our
founding fathers said, it’s perfectly all right to
make fun of stupid people.>>[LAUGH]
>>I’m quoting a founding father.>>[LAUGH]
>>Okay, Patrick Monahan at a senate hearing
told one of the people testifying, you are entitled sir to your opinions but
not your own facts. An old Latin phrase, [FOREIGN]. That which is alleged without proof
may be dismissed without explanation. In other words, get out of here is
a perfectly appropriate response to some people,
because they assert all sorts of things. So anyway, finally, Noam Chomsky,
educational reform is a euphemism. For the destruction of public education. That’s one that’s very serious and
to be kept in mind. With these ideas in mind, let’s look at what some important folks
are saying about our educational system. Our president, in many statements
about education, said, and I quote Our schools aren’t safe,
which is bad enough.. On top of that, our kids aren’t learning. Too many are dropping out of school and
into the street life. Schools are crime ridden and
they don’t teach. Well, people are tired of
spending more money on education than any other nation in
the world per capita. We’re number one in terms of cost
per pupil by a factor worldwide, by a factor of many. Number two is far, far behind us. We’re 26th in the world. 25 countries are better
than us at education. So let’s interrogate
the statements of our president. Let’s look at school safety, school
drop out rates, school learning, schools that don’t teach, cost of schooling, and
we’re doing at international competitions. To be sure our esteemed president
is not misleading us [LAUGH]. Okay for example these graphs are total victimizations in our public
schools from 1995 til two years ago. Thefts in our public schools Violent
victimizations in our public schools, and you will see that every trend is
down and has been dropping for 25 years. Our school crime rate is like
our total crime rate in the USA, a remarkable drop over
the last few decades. So mister Trump and a lot of other
critics of our public schools simply lie like the Devoss family when they
talk about unsafe public schools and why we need privates and that sorta thing. While incidents happen and
each may be awful, schools are now among the safest
places in society in which to be. Look at another example. This is the percentage of high school
dropouts among persons 16 to 24 years of age their status by race and ethnicity. Every trend is good. If we look at dropouts over time,
we that for 45 years we have reduced the overall
dropout rate dramatically. Moreover, for black and Hispanics kids,
we reduced the dropout rates by over half. So although we do have a drop out problem
since any drop out is a cause for worry it isn’t quite what
Mister Trump suggests. He and a lot of other critics of
our public schools do not tell the whole story. Let’s continue. If we want to know if school learning is
taking place and the teachers are really teaching what it is that they’re supposed
to be teaching, we can do that no better than to check the NAEP test the national
assessment of educational progress. Our nation’s report card. How do we look on? Well, it’s rather remarkable. For mathematics age 9, mathematics age 13,
for white students, black students, hispanic students, we’re up 28 points,
up 34 points, up 31 points, up 21 points, up 34 points, up 33 points Do the same for
reading and at age 9, and reading at age 13. There’s no evidence whatsoever
that students aren’t learning, cuz they’re learning more. And there’s no evidence that
teachers aren’t teaching, cuz they’re supposed to teach to kinda the
national curriculum, and they’re doing it. So by the way this is the same charge that
Bill Gates made a number of years ago when he said we spend so much money on
our schools and test scores are flat. Direct quote from Bill Gates. Now if I were mister Trump or mister Gates
and I had billions of dollars in the bank. I would pay $60,000 for a fact checker
before I opened my mouth, okay? They don’t seem to want to spend the
money, maybe that’s why they have so much. I would spend it. Anyways, let’s confront the issue of
extravagant spending on our schools. Sure we pay a lot for our schools, but it looks like we are not
spending the most at all. Here’s from Pizza at a glance. These are the cumulative amounts
spent per student on primary and secondary education converted dollars,
Australia spends the most, $141,000 on primary and secondary and
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Luxemburg, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland,
United Kingdom and then the United States. Do we spend the most money in the world? No, absolutely not. Do we spend a big chunk of money
compared to some other nations? Sure, but
the charge that we spend the most, and not even close, is simply wrong, okay? Another way to look at this Only so the nations choose to invest more
in their public schools than we do. That’s important,
this is a choice nations make. Another way to check Trump’s statement is
through the complicated to understand, at least to me, maybe some of you
are better at economics than I am. And this is the per capita gross
domestic product divided up by people. So you get a per person,
your share of gross domestic product. Okay, take the overall divide
by 330 million or something, then I know your share. And this year,
it’s a gross domestic product per capita. How much are you willing
to put into the schools? You, okay? The person. What percent of my share
of America’s gross domestic product might I be spending on primary or
secondary education? Is it the most in the world,
as is claimed? Here’s the data on that. Austria spends a percent
on primary education, a percent on gross domestic capita,
spent on secondary education So, this is your share of gross domestic product
when your kid is going to primary school. Your share of gross domestic product when
the kid is going to secondary school. Who’s spending the most in the world? Not us, okay. We spend a lot less than UK, Switzerland,
Slovenia, Sweden, Norway, Korea, Estonia, Belgium, and Austria. So again, other nations are willing to
invest more of their piece of the pie in education,
cuz it’s their piece of the pie. Let’s go to the international test to see
if we do as bad as Trump thinks we do. And as bad as politicians in newspapers
from the left and right think we do. I’m going to use the 2012 Pisa test first.>From Australia because they got their data
in a way that allows some inferences to be made that are harder to make in the US
data set but come to the US data set next. So, let me illustrate what I want to
say here with the Australian data. If you look at the rows here They are the
family income of kids, from the lowest quintile, next, next, next, next, down to
the highest quintile of family income. That’s the child’s family’s income. If you go across the columns, you’re talking about the family’s
incomes at the site of the school.>From the poorest families over on
the left, next, next, next, next, next to the richest families
over on the right, okay. I’ve illustrated the score
on Pisa in a cell that has a middle-class kid
in a middle-class school. The cross-section of these cells, okay? What’s the score on? 512. What’s the average on? 500. Middle class kid? Middle class school? A pretty average score, okay? Nothing surprising here. But let’s see if some trends emerge
when we fill in some of these cells. Just the first few cells surrounding that. We see that if you go across
the row of middle class kids, scores go from 500 to
512 to 541 as kids go to schools with wealthier families,
the same kids scores go up. Cohorts matter and for
those of you who know the Coleman Report, you may not know that a re-analysis of
the Coleman Report done many years later using modern statistical techniques found
that Coleman overemphasize family and neighborhood and under emphasize
the cohort you go to school with. Cohorts matter. That’s just what you’re seeing here. Let’s go. Okay. If you go down that middle column,
these are middle class families and the income of the kid determines the score
even though they were in a school for middle class families, okay. So, family income matters. Family is in the school matter. Both of those you’re seeing here. Let me, and
that’s just in the adjacent cells. Let’s go to the full, almost full. If you go down that middle column,
you see a score going from low income child to high income child
in a middle class school and it goes from 471 to 501
to 512 to 531 to 550. That’s a huge difference
depending upon the child’s family income in a middle class school. Let’s go the other way, if you’re
talking about a middle class kid and the kind of cohort they go to school with,
from low income to high income, you’re talking about scores that go 496,
500, 512, 541, 558. Huge difference by who
you go to school with. So, your family income matters. The school you go to matters. But I wanna point out to you is
what cell one, one and cell five, five tell us about
inequalities in America but this was Australia,
I’ll get to America next. In cell one one, poor kids in
a school that serves poor people. Score 455. Cell five five, wealthy kids at a school
that serves wealthy families for six or seven, you’re talking about huge
gaps in science, math, reading, patterns are the same, you’re talking
about kids in cell one one, maybe never meeting the kids in cell five five unless
they’ll become their servants, eventually. This is the gap we’re talking about here,
okay and it’s huge. Now, America doesn’t break it’s
state up quite that way, but I wanna make sure that you understand the
patterns probably are exactly the same. Here is science score for
students in schools. The top row are the under 10%
of the students eligible for free and reduced lunch. That’s our wealthiest public schools. Go down to the bottom, these are 75%
of more of the students eligible, these are our poorest schools and again, the
score difference, 446, 553, 100 points. Tells you the same story. But let me give you a little more of it,
because the newspapers love to say what the average mean score is, which hides all
the data which we work so hard to get. In science, American Asian kids averaged 525 above the scores for
kids in Hong Kong and well above Korea. Our Asians beat up Asian nations.>>[LAUGH]
>>Well that’s something to be proud of, I mean the Asian culture is a study culture
and then the American schools, they even do better than the Asians in Asia who are
getting after school schools all the time. In our age the kids are probably
in the newspaper club. They’re in the debate teams. They’re in, they’re doing American things
and they’re still coming out ahead. It’s a rather remarkable achievement. White kids even scored higher
than American Asian kids. They averaged 531. They beat career in Hong Kong and as a
separate group white American 15 year olds would have ranked fourth
in the world of science. Now newspapers don’t tell you that. They tell you we rank 27th in the world. Well that’s because we have a whole bunch
of poor kids not doing well, and a lot of them are black and hispanic and our nation
is really not dealing with that very well. Ranks don’t give you much, you know? If you come in fourth in an Olympic event,
right? You can come in fourth and
so you’re out of the money, you’re out of the gold,
you’re out of the celebration, you don’t get on the stairs, but
you’re one second off the world record. Ranks don’t tell you things
that are worth knowing. Okay so you gotta break
down the data a little bit. Our problem is inequality not bad schools hispanic kids average only 470
black kids average only 433. A poor particularly a poor minority
kids are not doing well at all and I might add that Massachusetts
completed the test also as a separate like a country, and may tie for
third place in the world. Massachusetts, one of our states. How come they do so well? How about they pay their taxes and
you don’t here in Ohio?>>[LAUGH]
>>Okay? I’m sorry.>>[LAUGH]
>>I’m leaving town, I can say anything I want.>>[LAUGH]
>>My state is worse. [LAUGH] Okay, so that’s science. We get the same thing in math and reading. Let me do, I think our reading score. In literacy, American Asian kids
average 527, the same as the scores for kids in Hong Kong and
well above Korea and Japan. Our Asians kick the butts of Asian Asians. White kids scored up there,
they’re averaging 526, also kicking butt against Korea and
Japan and matching American Asian kids. As a group they would have been forth
in the world tied with Finland. Our problem again is inequality,
you can read that for yourself. Remember that averages are misleading,
they cover up the great success and the awful failure of or
public schools okay? That’s what has to be kept in mind. Okay. The point of all these is, that we have an Apartheid like
system of housing in this country. Recent data from the Civil Rights project
that the UCLA shows that about 40% of all black kids and 40% of all Latino kids go
to schools that are 90% or more minority. That’s a staggering statistic. In fact about 15% of Latinos and blacks
go to schools that are 99% minority. That’s apartheid. It’s not the apartheid
of South Africa by law, it’s the apartheid of America by income. You can live anywhere you want in America,
there are no barriers against Jews, Hispanics, Blacks. You can live anywhere you want as
long as you have the money, okay? But it ends up with an apartheid-like
system, which Jonathan Kozol calls apartheid-light, okay,
which I think is accurate. Who you go to school with,
as I said, matters a lot and we have neighborhood schools,
particularly at the elementary level. So, the first six, seven, eight grades,
you’re going to school with other poor kids or other rich kids and you learn
the values of other poor kids and other rich kids rather
than something else. Okay. So, who you go to school
with matters a lot. Let me demonstrate this
in a different way. I found this study very interesting,
it’s New Jersey and the New Jersey test on language,
arts and math over on the right. And three variables. The household incomes in
a township in New Jersey. The percentage of lone parent
households in the district. And the level of parental
education in the district. Just take those three variables. I don’t need to know about your
teachers or their qualifications. I don’t need to know
about your curriculum. For example, the correlation
of these three variables with the reading scores was 0.74. And here’s the point here. These same three variables we used to
predict the percent scoring proficient in a school district. In Maple Shade Township,
48.71% of the students were predicted to be proficient in language arts,
and what was found was 48.7. In Vineland City, the predicted percent
was 48.29, actually proficient was 48.10. That is I could come in with a hairs graft
of the predicted number of kids scoring proficient without knowing anything
about what goes on in your schools. Well, if I can do that, what does it tell
you about what’s important in America? Family, neighborhood,
crime rates, divorce rates, jobs. That’s what’s influencing scores. Cuz I can predict your score,
I don’t need to know about your teachers, your curriculum, salaries, leadership, it’s all secondary to the way people live. I can predict these school’s test
scores remarkably well from that. Your state test of achievement, and
virtually every other standardized achievement test I know of,
are measuring your state’s housing policy. Its wages and jobs policy, its social
service and social welfare budget, its court system,
its Medicaid budget and so forth. If you think that educational policy can
be made to improve our schools without concerns for these other factors and
I’m talking to our policy analyst here, you want what rarely was and
rarely will be. Okay, schools are embedded in
the society in which we live. In particular, we need a housing policy
that can help to stabilize families, that cuts down on evictions,
to cut down on moves. We know that kids will move a lot,
drop out of school a lot. It’s just that simple, okay? We also need policing and
judicial policies that do not throw so many people in jail for failure to pay
small fines or for minor infractions. We need jails that train people and
does not just warehouse them, so when they’re released, they have a chance
to get work when they come out of jail, and regain their families
if they have them. We need to do this so that we put
fewer kids at risk of being homeless, cuz we know that homelessness
leads to drop outs and crime. The numbers of household moves a child
makes predicts school achievement and life outcomes about as well
as does academic potential. Well, we can change that, okay,
if we had a different set of policies. I was walking the streets of Helsinki and
my host and I were looking around. I just come from San Francisco and there are a lot of homeless people
in the San Francisco, Oakland area. And I’m looking around Helsinki and
I don’t see any. And I said to my host, Yarko,
where are your homeless people? He said, what do you mean? I said, well, homeless people. Where are they?
He says, I don’t know what you mean. And when you’re talking to a foreign
person, you raise your voice and speak more slowly.>>[LAUGH]
>>Yarko, where are the homeless people?>>[LAUGH]
>>And he says I don’t know what your problem is. I said well what happens
to your homeless people? He said we get them homes.>>[LAUGH]
>>I’m stunned, what a solution.>>[LAUGH]
>>I mean other nations deal differently than
we do with issues like that. I wanna make a comment here. I don’t wanna discourage any teachers or
administrators among you. Teachers do touch eternity
one kid at a time. They don’t touch test scores as easily,
but they change lives, even history. Remember that Alexander the Great’s
teacher was Aristotle and that did change the world. I have witnessed that great teachers and
great schools do exist. We all should marvel at them and learn
from them what we can but those kinds of teachers are hard to find and those
kinds of schools don’t replicate easily. So while I am happy to say that demography
isn’t always destiny, it is equally true that poor kids in poor neighborhoods have
little chance to get a great education and make it out of those neighborhoods. In fact,
the great teachers in schools we see are actually used against
us by people in politics. We hear all the time,
if they can do it, why can’t you? Well, it’s hard, that’s why, I mean Donald Trump found out
that healthcare is complicated.>>[LAUGH]
>>Well, I mean these people don’t know that changing schools,
changing lives of kids is complicated, just not simple, and some manage to do it,
and we applaud them. This is the problem though for
again, for policy, for you. It’s the problem of making
policy by exception. Let me tell you what I mean by that. Within 1 mile of this campus, I can find an 85 year old person
smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Should I take the label off? It’s an exception. Within one mile of this campus, I’m sure there’s somebody drinking
half a bottle of Jim Beam everyday. Should I tell people that drinking half
a bottle of Jim Beam is good for you?>>What?
>>The 85 years old. There’s probably even one smoking and
drinking Jim Beam.>>[LAUGH]
>>The question for us is not the exceptions. The rules are correct. Smoking and
drinking that much will kill you, okay? So you can’t make policy. We have some great teachers. We’re not all like them. We have some great schools. That’s a unique combination. We can’t replicate that. You can’t make policy based on exception. You make it on the odds. The odds are poor kids in
schools that serve the poor, are not gonna do great,
no matter how hard the teachers try, okay? So that’s what I wanna get across. Exceptions exist but
you can’t make policy on that basis. With that in mind, let me go on to
other myths and lies for our era. For example, there’s the belief that our
middling average performance on PISA and the poor performance of
some other nations on PISA dooms everyone of these nations to
third world status in the future. This is based on projections
by the well known economist, Eric which I talked to some of you about,
and his co-authors. He took the correlational data and
made the reasonable causal claim, built from correlational data, that increases in PISA scores would
yield untold billions for nations. He said that unless we in the USA improved
our standing on international tests, our nation is doomed. Fire the bad teachers, he urges. And here’s why he said that. These are the data along the abscissa, our scores on Pisa tests,
which he centered around 0. On the ordinate, are growth in
the economy which is centered at 0. And what you see is a very strong
relationship, 60% of the variance in growth in the economy can be
explained by growth in PISA scores. Reasonable conclusion, if you do better
on PISA, your nation will thrive. If you do worse on PISA,
expect to go to hell.>>[LAUGH]
>>I reckon as colleagues, were making very strong claims about this. You’ll notice at the top,
I have, in 1960 to 2000, this is from the first time
the international tests started. And the economies of
the nations in the year 2000. And it’s a believable argument,
but it’s nonsense. We have some obvious data that you all
know about that should caution you about the overall claim. For example, overall the US
doesn’t do very well on PISA but still has a remarkably good economy. Well, that challenges
Eric right off the bat. Japan does great on
the international test, it’s just coming out of
a 20 year depression. Again, that should warn people that
this is, got a little set of problems. But I will tell you how to
really put this notion to sleep, use a different time frame. Instead of 1960 to 2000,
let’s go to 1995 to 2014. Hardly any relationship at all. It just fades, it’s gone, okay. Variance explained 12%,
not a trivial finding. But, well trivial finding. But, I mean, obviously there’s relationship
between how educators society is. And, how they gonna do in the economy. But, that’s not very strong. It has do with all the factors, and so where it’s wrong, and
the world continues to believe him. PISA scores are used to
justify all sorts of things. So it is true that the level of academic
achievement of one’s society has a relationship to the economy, but
that relationship is not strong at all. Economic growth depends a lot more on
other things, including creativity. Of which US workers have plenty
as I’ll illustrate soon. Continuing this look at the USA’s
likely horrible future, as predicted by doomsayers all of the
time, is a little known unpublicized fact that those who regularly denigrate
our public schools, ignore them. It comes from a piece of
performance of our 15 year olds. I mean this,
the newspapers never picked this up, it’s on a different page
than the rankings, okay? They have to read two pages, and newspaper reporters seem to be limited in
the page turning ability of the reports.>>[LAUGH]
>>So let’s look at it, though it doesn’t come out very well. Let me read this to you here. Over on the left here, this is science and these are the percentage of 15 year
olds who score five or six on PISA, meaning they’re the brightest 15
year olds in the world on Science. What percentage of the nation,
of the international pool of stupendous PISA takers,
belong to different countries? 33% of the reserve pool of bright Science kids in the world are in the US. Canada is 5%, Germany 9%,
UK at 11%, Japan 17%. All the other OECD nations combined, 25%. We have 33%. How is that possible when you
keep hearing how bad things are? It’s very easy. Finland, which has, I don’t know,
a couple of thousand people>>[LAUGH]>>Right, it’s true, they get about 20% of their kids
into the highest levels of PISA. Of course, they do a really good job. We have 50 million kids, we only got
about 5% of our kids in the top. 5% of 50 million is what 2.5 million? We have 2.5 million really
smart 15 year olds. Finland, which does better
than us has 50,000. You see how it works? We are such a rich country in
resources even though we’re not as good at teaching the kids Science,
okay? Well, how do we look in Math? The US has 14% of the top
math kids in the world. And math is our weakest subject. And that’s only by,
Korea’s got 16%, Japan 15%. But we’re right up with them. All the other OECD countries get 28%. And these people want to migrate to the US
and contribute to our economy, if Mr. Trump would let them in, okay? So we have, I mean we’re lucky,
we’re blessed nation. In literacy, we have a 33%,
one-third in the world’s most literate 15 year olds,
live in the US. Literacy, of course,
is the basic skill for Math and Science. So, you just don’t get this
from the newspapers when they talked about how good our schools are or
how bad our schools are. So anyway. Certainly, too many of our 15 year olds
do not too as well as those in some other nations when we look at achievement tests. But let’s ask a different question. How do our 35 year olds do in
international competition. Let’s stop with the 15 year olds,
remember PISA is supposed to predict. I mean,
thesis is not about curriculum, okay? Thesis are prediction system. How do a 35 year old look? Let’s say creative entrepreneurship. Well, a 132 countries were assessed and rank by researchers associated with
the Imperial College and other places. The number one country in the world in
global entrepreneurship was ta da the USA. No newspaper I know of carried this
report, I mean the Economist did and the Wall Street Journal did but
my Arizona Republic was so busy bashing the schools,
it didn’t have time to talk about this. The authors in the 2014 competition,
which we also won. This is the 2016, I updated it. But the 2014 competition,
which we once said, quote, entrepreneurship plays
a crucial role in the US economy. And as a result, policy initiatives are created to
encourage entrepreneurial behavior. This couple with the culture
of determination and motivation makes the US a great
place to be an entrepreneur. Moreover, the gulf between the United
States and other countries is large and appears to be widening not narrowing. Furthermore in 2014, they decided to
do something they never did before. They looked at female entrepreneurship
because of women’s roles changing throughout the world. Who’s the number one in the world
in female entrepreneurship? Ta-da! USA. So when we’re telling everybody
about how bad our schools are, we need to remember that the PISA test is
predictive, and there are very few tests that predict well over 20 years,
over 10 years, over five years, okay? And we’re talking about a test that’s
supposed to predict adult behavior and it doesn’t do that well. But, and if these findings are not
good enough to shut the naysayers up, which they usually not, let’s look at
the OECD’s Global Innovation Index. Where’s the United States? The OECD which runs PISA says we’re
the fourth most productive nation in the world in innovation. Not bad, if you ask me. And if that doesn’t shut the map,
it really does, here is the, another metric,
this is the Global Creativity Index. United States is number two. So when I hear about how bad our schools
are, I have to call people liars. Because we’re producing
some wonderful outcomes. Are we producing the highest PISA scores? No, are we producing terrific outcomes? Yeah, okay? Well, I talked to Yong Jo. Some of you have studied Yong Jo. His last book was Who’s Afraid of
the Big Bad Dragon or Big Red Dragon. And he was educated in China,
came to the United States. .Won’t go back, raises his kids here. And his point is that we just don’t
understand the power of high school newspaper, the power of a debating team,
the power of yearbook. The power of after school
play activities and sports. He said, we just don’t understand how
that’s the training in the arts and all the music schools. Lots of you have musician kids. They’re going to school,
they’ll do their Math if you ask them. But they’re going to school cuz they
want to go to the music class, okay? What it turns out is that’s the basis for actually remarkable adult
achievement in the United States. And if we keep trying to emulate. The schools in Japan and Korea and
Hong Kong, which are basically terrible schools, cuz they run for five hours, and
then everybody has to go to school for another five hours in the [FOREIGN]
schools and the [FOREIGN] schools, and all the other schools that are out there. We have a system we underestimate,
its stupendous nature and we’re getting good out comes even if we’re
not getting 15 year olds competing well. My point of all this is
that even with our warts, I would not worry about the future
of the USA developing talents. I wanna add something though,
someone called me, I’m optimist and I’m a pie in the sky guy. And I wanna say,
we got plenty of work to do. I don’t wanna do that. I just added this last night. All I wanna do is show you, when you
control for PISA scores and team scores. And you control by the poverty
levels of countries, the USA is right smack even. We are the average country for scores on tests when you control for
poverty. That also means that Lithuania,
Italy, England, Hungary, Korea, Slovenia, they’re doing better than
us when you control for poverty. So we have a long way to go, okay,
we’re not where we wanna be. But the fact of the matter is we’re no
where near as bad as the newspapers make us about to be. Okay let’s talk about the DeVos
secretariat now for a little bit. She’s a strong advocate for
private schools and charters, but her beliefs in them
cannot be well-supported. She can fool herself if she wants. Your state legislators seem
to do that all the time. And she can invest her billions as she
wants, but she should not fool the public. Here’s what I know, if we look at tested
achievement by some sectors of schooling, secular privates,
non-secular privates, and public schools, and ask how they did on,
let’s say NAEP fourth-grade tests. You get this finding, if you look across
there you see we have Catholic schools, Lutheran schools, conservative Christian
schools, other private schools. And we asked how they do on a NAEP test,
well the Catholic schools beat a match public
school kid by nine points. The Lutheran school kids would
beat a matched public school kid by ten points, seven points etc. Conservative christian schools up four,
other private schools up 11. So, the private schools look better. Now, supposing you adjust by social
class of the families that are attending public and private. Very simple, the Lubianski did this. A lot of work but a very simple thought. Bingo. The same kids in a public
school do better. Both, the private school kids are doing
worse matched with the public school kid. Seven points on there for
Catholic schools. Four points for Lutheran schools. 12 points under for
conservative Christian, and other private schools five points under. So you get two kids matched in social
class, the kid goes to a public school, they will actually do better
than a private school. The problem is, the private schools
enroll more of these kids, so their mean score looks better. But are we doing our job
in public education? We sure are. Okay, these findings are supported
independently by Harold Wenglinsky of ETS. He determined that students enrolled in
independent, secular private high schools, most types of parochial schools, and
public magnet or choice schools did not perform any better than the students
in traditional public high schools, once you considered family background. Two independent sources,
two completely different people, two completely different political
views that reaches exact same conclusion about our schools,
that’s pretty powerful for me. We now know from
the American Statistical Association or from my own studies that outside of school
factors account for 60% of the variance, we see an achievement test scores for
both public and private schools. Okay, that’s what’s important. Teachers in these schools account for
only about 10% of the variation. What do these outsider
school factors look like? What are they affecting,
whether you’re in public or private? I made a list of them. It took me only about two minutes. Percent of low birth weight
children in the neighborhood. Inadequate medical, dental and
vision care and family in neighborhood. Food and security in family. Environmental pollutants in home and
neighborhood. Family relations and family stress. Percent of mothers at the school
site that are single and or teens. Percent of mothers at the school site that
there are possess a high school degree. Language spoken at home. [SOUND] These are the exogenous variables. That the economists never
put in their equations. These are the out-of-school
factors that are counting for 60% of the variation we see whether
in public or private schools. Demography and
sociological variables are not destiny, but they’re powerful sources of
influence on aggregates through the achievement test scores in
both public and private schools. Politicians look for easy fixes when they
try to fix schools by blaming teachers and blaming the curriculum. We got the common core because we
couldn’t compete internationally except that American Asians and
white kids in advantaged schools were competing beautifully with
the curriculum we had. So it wasn’t the curriculum at all,
it was a poverty and a mistake in attribution of causation. We need to stop blaming America’s teachers
as Dunkin and Obama did, and now DeVos and Trump do. You can’t fix many schools when typically
it is not the school that is broken. Let’s confront another myth, we examine in
our book, one that is now spread regularly by DeVos and Trump, namely that
charter schools are better schools. Actually, the data are quite convincing
that the majority of charter schools are no better than their matched public
schools, and that there is a small set of charters performing better than
the matched public schools. And an even larger set of charters
performing worse than their matched public schools. The one exception to this
rule is online charters. They are simply a scam. They cheat parents out of genuine
educational services for their children. They cheat federal, state, and
local governments out of money. The new laws that are being
proposed that would allow parents to receive some
sort of voucher for home schooling using the online stuff
means a big increase in birth rate. Cuz every child I have I can get about
$8,000 for if I put them on a computer. Well, it’s an incentive, okay? I don’t have to pay attention to my kid or
what they’re learning, but I’m gonna get 8,000 bucks. This is bizarre policy if you ask me,
but nobody asked me. [LAUGH]
>>[LAUGH]>>Anyway, even traditional charter schools that supposedly perform better
than the public school matches our suspect in my state of Arizona. And here’s why, let me show you why
I have so little faith in the charter movement particularly the private
ownership, the EMO’s. I mean, a district that charters a school,
and it’s under a school board, I like the concept. Let people find a way to make
a better school, wonderful. But an EMO,
an education management organization, that’s a profit making organization
stealing public money from our public schools, with no oversight mostly. Here’s what happened in Arizona. The four best high schools in Arizona are
the basis school in Scottsdale, the basis school in Tuscan, Great Hearts Academy in
Chandler, Great Hearts Academy in Veritas. These were rated by US news and
world report as four of the top ten high schools in America,
and the four best in Arizona. Okay, terrific charter schools. Let’s ask some questions about them. The percent of students on free and reduced lunch state
wide in Arizona is 35%. How many of them do these
wonderful high schools serve? [LAUGH]
>>Somehow by lottery, they didn’t find their
way into these schools. Is it too bad the schools are there for
them, okay. Let’s look at some other data. What percentage of students,
who are English-language learners, do we have statewide? 7.5%. What percent of them found their way
into these wonderful high schools? Zero, zero, zero, zero. These schools are skimming, and creaming, and finding ways not to
bring those kids in. Or if the kids come into school,
six weeks later they call the parents and said, your little Johnny or
Juan is not doing well here and we think the best place for
that student is somewhere else. It’s just unfair. And then, you look at the scores at
the end of the year, it’s unfair. What else do we know about them? The percent of students on IEPs,
12% statewide. Look at what they have. The largest is 3%,
the rest are 1% or under 1% on IEPs. They don’t take special ed kids either
unless it’s an easy special ed kid, in which case they’ll take the money. On percent of students who are not white,
statewide 43%. In every one of these cases,
much more white kids than nonwhite kids. But that’s not all the problem we have
with the Devos’s love of charters. Here’s also stuff from the same schools,
I’ll just illustrate too. On the top is the basic school,
Scottsdale. They had 146 kids in the 6th grade, but they graduated 21. I can look real good too if I
throw out the kids I don’t like. In fact, I never met a teacher who said, she couldn’t do better if she
could throw out two kids. And she wanted to pick the two kids.>>[LAUGH]
>>Okay. This is just unfair. Then the basis advertisers,
99% of our kids go on to college. Well, if you threw out everybody else,
it’s not hard to get data like that.>>[LAUGH]
>>Okay. The other school is
the Great Hearts in Chandler. At one point,
they had 113 kids enrolled in 8th grade. They graduated a little better,
45 of them, but they lost all the kids by
graduation that were hard to teach. So I have very little faith
that the charter movement, particularly the EMO charters,
are gonna save American education. What do I got? I wanna end up soon. Glass and I also noted that the whole
country has gone STEM crazy. Your state, like every other state,
wants to develop STEM graduates. But neither, Devos nor Arne Duncan,
neither Obama nor Trump, knows that there’s something called
the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s an Executive Branch Agency,
it’s run by the White House and nobody ever seems to walk in their doors,. Because if you look at
the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you learn something very interesting
that all the manufacturers deny. You learn for example, that there are
277,000 STEM vacancies per year in the US. And that’s the good news,
you got a kid going into the STEM field, there’s a quarter of
a million jobs every year. That’s nice to know, well, but let me add something that the Bureau
of Labor Statistics tells us. There are 252,000 STEM bachelor’s
degree recipients every year, there’s 80,000 STEM master’s
degree recipients every year. There’s 20,000 STEM PhD recipients,
40,000 STEM associate degree recipients, 50,000 H-1B visa holders come
in every year for STEM skills. And I just gotta ask if anyone
in the government can add? Cuz when I add, we have 442,000
new STEM graduates a year for 277,000 jobs a year,
which is a surplus of 165,000 a year. I don’t make this stuff up, okay. It comes from the Bureau
of Labor Statistics. They also tell me, that there’s 11
million people in the US workforce that have STEM degrees and
not working in STEM areas. This is just, I don’t know how to say it. The US News and World Report said, and
I’m quoting, all credible research finds the same evidence about the STEM
workforce, ample supply, stagnant wages, and by industry accounts, thousands
of applicants for any advertised job. The real concern should be about
the dim employment prospects for our best STEM graduates. They say, also, that currently, the Census
Bureau reports that only one in four STEM Bachelor recipients gets a STEM job. And these are myths
created out of nothing. I’m gonna skip, I’m gonna tell one story. I got call from a PhD student in the
engineering school, a Hispanic young man. And he calls me up and said, Dr. Berliner, can I come over and talk to
you about my switching from engineering? PhD candidate switching from
engineering to education. I said sure, come on over. Bring your transcripts,
tell me what you’ve taken. He comes over, I look at the stuff. I said, you’re doing very well, you get
good grades, you got great courses. I’m sure we would love to
have you in education. And I’ll find a way to get you lots
of credits for your science stuff, so that you take the pedagogy and
not any science stuff. And I said, but why are you wanting to
move from engineering to education? And he said,
I don’t wanna be a migrant worker. I don’t want to be a migrant worker. And I said, I don’t understand. And he said, my parents were
migrant workers, I went up and down the California Valleys
picking lettuce with them. They settled in Yuma, where we picked
lettuce, and I joined them there. And we were in Yuma, so I came to ASU and
I got my bachelor’s, my master’s, now I’m in my doctorate. And I don’t wanna be
a migrant like they are. I said, I still don’t understand
what migrant working has to do with engineering. He says, you don’t understand
the profession, Dr Berliner. If I go to work for Boeing, I’m gonna work
on a project, when the project’s over, I’m fired. I can work on a plane or
a missile and I’m out. When I go work for GE, I’m on project and
when the projects over, I’m fired. It’s not lifetime employment at GE,
like my grandfather or my father might have had, okay. When I go to work for Arizona State
University, right here, I’m not given a ten year track, I’m given a project and
when the project funds dry up, I’m out. I don’t wanna be a migrant. I’d rather teach high school and
find rewards that way. That’s a whole different
view of the STEM area, then we’ve been lead to believe, okay. So anyway, just one more myth. We took on other myths in Arizona,
the Goldwater Institute, and also quoting John Stossel on TV said, early childhood education is a scam,
it has no value. Well, Nobeloriate seem to refute that and
tell us that we get back seven or nine dollars for every dollar invested
in early childhood education. Though you have to wait 20 years, okay? We took on the retention and grade myth,
your state is one of the stupid states. It retains kids in third grade,
if they’re not reading. I went to my
Chief State School Officer and I said, you’re gonna spend $8,000 extra
on this kid retaining them? He said, yes, she’s not reading. I said, why don’t you spend $4,000
a year for summer school, and during fourth grade, a tutor,
instead of leaving the kids back? It’s the same 8,000, but it’ll work,
that’s what middle class people do. My grandson was failing third grade,
they wanna leave him back. We got a tutor, he passed third grade. This is not rocket science, you know.>>[LAUGH]
>>So I told my Chief State School Officer,
and he said, no, no, no. We can’t do that, we have to let them know
that they’re not working hard enough. It’s this crazy belief that
when a kid’s not doing well, they’re not putting out their best effort. And it’s a punishment system. In my state they call it giving
the kid the gift of time, a euphemism. One of my professors at ASU took a list
of horrible events and asked kids who had been left back, being left back,
which events are like being left back? The winners were going blind and
losing a parent. That’s the gift of time. So anyway, your state does it, too. We took on the homework myth. One of you work with the,
what’s his name, Harris Cooper? Who?
You work with Harris Cooper, so you know about homework. Home work in elementary school is usually just busy work to
keep the kid away from the TV. It has very little value, junior high
a little more, high school homework has effects on achievement but we give lots
and lots of homework for kids and. I would rather give kids projects to deal
with, something useful than homework, but anyway, that’s, anyway so
let me wide down. I find a lot wrong with the conclusions of
many who argue that schools are no good and the United States will perish. I’m old, I’ve heard it all before. First the Russians are gonna beat us,
but they haven’t. Then the Japanese are gonna beat us,
but they didn’t. Now, the Chinese are gonna beat us, but China has about 500 million people
living on a few dollars a day. And they are surely not gonna be
competitive with us for many, many years. I’ve heard this all before. My generation was told
we could not compete. We were lazy, we were coddled,
we couldn’t read. The book, Why Johnny Can’t Read, still selling,
came out when I was in high school. We liked Rock and Roll, meaning we had the temerity to
bring black music into white households. We were found to be impolite. We smoked marijuana and on and on and on. But my stupid and lazy age mates,
my disrespectful and incompetent friends, led America to eminence in
the last part of the 20th century. It’s a century called by most
nations the American century. So it was led by my incompetent age mates. All this youth and school bashing I see
around me is galling and so repetitive. It’s been going on, by the way, from 500
BC, when Socrates roamed the streets of Athens telling everyone that Athens
will fall cuz youth were disrespectful. Youth didn’t know the history of Athens. They weren’t learning enough. And Athens would fall, Socrates went around telling everybody the world is
doomed and 500 years later Athens fell. It was a little late but
he got it right eventually.>>[LAUGH]
>>But this is just a repetitive thing, I hang out with old people all they
do is complain about youth and their medical problems. It’s just, I’m tired of it. Let’s also keep in mind that Chinese and Korean childhoods
are nightmares by my standards. If anyone in the USA wants
to raise a Chinese style or Korean style student,
they’re free to do so. And it’s true that those students
really do well in the American schools. There are tiger moms and
they have effects on their kids. But we in the USA have a different view
of a child that is quite different than the one’s that prevail in other countries. We go bonkers over the Super Bowl. We actually want our kids to engage in
swimming, tennis field, hockey, baseball. Weekends we don’t mind if our kids watch
some TV or play with their friends or hangout with the family. The majority of us don’t expect our kids
to rush into their homework after school. And we approve of teen dances and heavens, we even expect some of these kids to date,
my God. Most of us even think it might actually be
harmful if our kids studied all the time, which is a completely different
mindset than some other nations. With our widespread beliefs about how
childhood and youth should be spent, we in the USA will never, never, never, never compete well with
the students of some other nations. We need to get over it. We need to take pride that
a typical childhood in our nation does not include five hours of after
school study for examinations. We need to take pride in the public
schools, which enroll 90% of our kids and give rise to adults that are the most
creative entrepreneurs in the world. The whole world agrees that we have built
an innovative and creative society. Our shame is that not all our 15 year
olds are going to end up as part of our nation’s remarkable set
of successful adults. Success for poor people in general,
and poor black and Latinos in particular,
has gotten harder to achieve recently. Let me show you that because
it’s just what needs changing. This is I think one of the most
important graphs of all times. It has to do with the gap between a kid at the 90th percentile in family income,
whose family’s at the 90th percentile, and a kid whose families at
the 10th percentile in income. And what’s the standard deviation gap
in achievement test score between them? Rich kids always do better than poor kids,
question is what’s the gap, okay? In 1945, the gap was about
six-tenths of a standard deviation, rich kids over poor kids, okay? Look at the graph. It’s now 1.25 standard deviations. The gap between rich and poor kids, there’s hardly any
overlap in the curves anymore, okay? That’s scary. How does that happen? Well, here’s the amount spent
by spending on children. Used to be 3000 a year
by a top decile family, versus $800 a year by
a bottom decile family. A gap, but look what has happened,
the gap is now huge, $7,000, $8,000 a year compared
to the same $800 a year. That’s means my daughter sends the kids
to the museum in the summer for four weeks of paleontology and
stuff I never heard of. [LAUGH] But
the kid’s getting enrichment and poor kids are not and
it’s that sort of difference. And this one which saddens me because
of the talent loss that this country is going through. These are the lowest scoring
high income students right here, these are the top decile kids in income. The lowest scoring of them is
graduating college at the same rate as the highest scoring low income kids. What a waste of talent we’re
talking about here, okay? The Hispanic and black talent
pools that we’re not tapping into. So that’s the stuff that worries me most. Our society needs changing
much more than do our schools. I only wish that our president and
secretary understood that. Too many school reformers that they
admire want to profit from our schools, running them for private gain and not for the public good, which is what
should be on every educator’s mind. So thank you for inviting me.>>[LAUGH]
>>Not every school reformer is our friend.>>[LAUGH]
>>Thanks for inviting me.>>[APPLAUSE]

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