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Author Topic: The Imperial Dominion of the South's Legislature  (Read 122074 times)
IDS Attorney General PiT
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« Reply #2625 on: May 11, 2012, 02:27:57 am »
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     Oh, got confused. At any rate, we should offer these high paygrades to quality teachers. I fear that just giving every rookie teacher $57,000/year would stand to degrade the profession by attracting people who just want the money & don't care about the kids.
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SJoyce
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« Reply #2626 on: May 11, 2012, 05:38:53 am »
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     Oh, got confused. At any rate, we should offer these high paygrades to quality teachers. I fear that just giving every rookie teacher $57,000/year would stand to degrade the profession by attracting people who just want the money & don't care about the kids.

Any suggestions on what it should be then?
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IDS Attorney General PiT
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« Reply #2627 on: May 11, 2012, 03:09:23 pm »
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     I could go for retaining the current base pay rates & have performance-based boosters. Problem is, that would require that we write standardized tests well enough that "teaching to the test" does not disservice the students. One of the common criticisms of standardized testing is that the questions are frequently irrelevant to any kind of reasonable curriculum.

     We also need to figure out how much this would cost & how we would pay for it.
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Princess Kenny
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« Reply #2628 on: May 11, 2012, 03:49:18 pm »
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My sincere apologies for being such a Johhny Come Lately. I haven't ignored legislative works, but were studying the issue. Expect me to comment soon Smiley
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SJoyce
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« Reply #2629 on: May 11, 2012, 04:12:55 pm »
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     I could go for retaining the current base pay rates & have performance-based boosters. Problem is, that would require that we write standardized tests well enough that "teaching to the test" does not disservice the students. One of the common criticisms of standardized testing is that the questions are frequently irrelevant to any kind of reasonable curriculum.

     We also need to figure out how much this would cost & how we would pay for it.

I could see that, if we can avoid the "pineapples don't have sleeves" issue... We could also just pay them minimum wage, but count time spent grading papers, planning lessons, communicating with parents, providing help for students, setting up/taking down classrooms, writing grant proposals, shopping for school supplies, prepping for certification, coaching, and club advising in addition to time spent in the classroom.
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Yelnoc
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« Reply #2630 on: May 11, 2012, 04:20:31 pm »
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Perhaps a pay-grade system would make the most sense.  Every year the teacher's salary increases by a certain percent from the base (capped at a certain point of course).
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IDS Attorney General PiT
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« Reply #2631 on: May 14, 2012, 03:02:33 pm »
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     Ahem.
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SJoyce
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« Reply #2632 on: May 14, 2012, 05:22:44 pm »
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I'd accept a pay-grade system with performance based boosters.
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Yelnoc
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« Reply #2633 on: May 15, 2012, 10:25:38 am »
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So then, now that the sponsor has left the legislator, someone else will have to step forward to sponsor this bill.

Do NOT sponsor if you're not prepared to do some serious work.  I will be busy in real life until mid-June, so I'm not able to sponsor it.
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SJoyce
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« Reply #2634 on: May 15, 2012, 04:08:35 pm »
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So then, now that the sponsor has left the legislator, someone else will have to step forward to sponsor this bill.

Do NOT sponsor if you're not prepared to do some serious work.  I will be busy in real life until mid-June, so I'm not able to sponsor it.

Y'all (Duke, Kal, Mecha, newguy) can just PM me if you'd like me to chip in some.
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HagridOfTheDeep
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« Reply #2635 on: May 16, 2012, 01:52:24 pm »
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Just chiming in to say hello. PiT appointed me to fill SJoyceFla's seat. I'll try to contribute as much as I can.

Don't know that I'd feel confident sponsoring a bill yet though. I'm pretty new to all this.

--------------------

Anyhow, I would also support a pay-grade system based on seniority. The tricky thing about performance-based raises is figuring out how to score teachers in an unbiased way. I guess some kind of standardized testing for the students would be an okay way to judge a teacher's ability. The test would have to change each year though. Maybe we'd start off with a diagnostic test and finish the term with another test. That way the teachers are judged on how much the kids actually learned and improved. Only administering one test could inadvertently reward bad teachers--maybe the kids did so well because they had an exceptional teacher the year before. A diagnostic test would remove the ambiguity.

Only problem is, this would cost a lot and might not even be worth it. I don't know if there'd be some way to offload the responsibility to the unions...

I've got some other comments on the rest of the bill, but I'll hold off for a while (I'm strongly against the mandatory three years of foreign language classes).
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SJoyce
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« Reply #2636 on: May 16, 2012, 02:32:08 pm »
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Just chiming in to say hello. PiT appointed me to fill SJoyceFla's seat. I'll try to contribute as much as I can.

Don't know that I'd feel confident sponsoring a bill yet though. I'm pretty new to all this.

--------------------

Anyhow, I would also support a pay-grade system based on seniority. The tricky thing about performance-based raises is figuring out how to score teachers in an unbiased way. I guess some kind of standardized testing for the students would be an okay way to judge a teacher's ability. The test would have to change each year though. Maybe we'd start off with a diagnostic test and finish the term with another test. That way the teachers are judged on how much the kids actually learned and improved. Only administering one test could inadvertently reward bad teachers--maybe the kids did so well because they had an exceptional teacher the year before. A diagnostic test would remove the ambiguity.

Only problem is, this would cost a lot and might not even be worth it. I don't know if there'd be some way to offload the responsibility to the unions...

I've got some other comments on the rest of the bill, but I'll hold off for a while (I'm strongly against the mandatory three years of foreign language classes).


ik I'm not supposed to talk here, but I support that proposed performance-based system; there's no real way to offload assessment to the unions though.
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IDS Attorney General PiT
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« Reply #2637 on: May 16, 2012, 03:47:53 pm »
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     Input is welcome from all citizens of the region. The Legislature is here to serve its constituents.
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HagridOfTheDeep
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« Reply #2638 on: May 18, 2012, 09:30:12 pm »
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Well we're at it then, I'll point out my concerns over the proposed three year foreign language requirement.

Assuming the student will make his first real contact with the language in ninth grade, even after three years of coursework, the student won't be coming out with that much profficiency. The kid still won't be prepared to use that language in the workforce or wherever else. So if that person wants to become truly fluent, he or she will have to take more courses outside of high school anyway. I took nine years of core French in high school and I'm still not fluent. I don't think the difference between three years and one year will be that much (other than the wasted hours).

So for those people who aren't going to pursue the language, why force them to spend three years in school learning it? Especially when they could use those course slots for classes more tailored to their interests or future career goals (maybe economics)?

I say it would be far more beneficial if there was a one year requirement. It at least exposes the students to the new language. It gives students a chance to see whether they like it or not. Maybe then we mandate that the school provides the option for continued learning in a variety of options (maybe we mandate Spanish+two other languages).

If not that, then start language training in grade four as it is in Ontario.
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Duke
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« Reply #2639 on: May 18, 2012, 11:26:50 pm »
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It's true the younger the better for languages. Maybe we start kids earlier? I'm in the camp that it's beneficial to study another language even if you're horrible at it, like me. It helps in a lot of other subjects to know a language like French or Latin or Spanish and the like.

Then again, I am not knowledgable at all with education so I feel I'd contribute more to it by not contributing than contributing. Tongue
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HagridOfTheDeep
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« Reply #2640 on: May 18, 2012, 11:51:26 pm »
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lol. I agree though that it's really beneficial. In Ontario you start in grade four and have to take French all the way through grade 9. It's optional after that. I think it's a good system. It's not like a kid in grade four really needs to study economics or chemistry anyway, so the foreign language wouldn't be hogging credits.

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SJoyce
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« Reply #2641 on: May 19, 2012, 01:57:34 am »
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I believe it just says they need three years of a language, regardless of the years they take it, so you could take a language just during middle, or grades 4-6.
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HagridOfTheDeep
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« Reply #2642 on: May 19, 2012, 11:03:21 am »
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Okay, awesome. I say though that we change the section 14 wording just a bit:

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14.) To graduate high schools middle school, students shall be required to take at least three years of a useful foreign language; such a language is defined here as: English (for non-English speakers), Spanish, French, Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, German, Italian, Malay, Chinese, Dutch, Persian, Romanian, Serbian, or Swahili (not all languages are available at all schools). High schools shall provide optional programming in Spanish plus two other languages.

OR

Quote
14.) To graduate high school, students shall be required to take at least three years of a useful foreign language at any level of their educational career; such a language is defined here as: English (for non-English speakers), Spanish, French, Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, German, Italian, Malay, Chinese, Dutch, Persian, Romanian, Serbian, or Swahili (not all languages are available at all schools). High schools shall provide optional programming in Spanish plus two other languages.

I'm emphasizing Spanish just because of the large population of Hispanics in Atlasia. But I'd have no problem striking that specificity from my last sentence.
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SJoyce
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« Reply #2643 on: May 19, 2012, 11:56:49 am »
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Okay, awesome. I say though that we change the section 14 wording just a bit:

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14.) To graduate high schools middle school, students shall be required to take at least three years of a useful foreign language; such a language is defined here as: English (for non-English speakers), Spanish, French, Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, German, Italian, Malay, Chinese, Dutch, Persian, Romanian, Serbian, or Swahili (not all languages are available at all schools). High schools shall provide optional programming in Spanish plus two other languages.

OR

Quote
14.) To graduate high school, students shall be required to take at least three years of a useful foreign language at any level of their educational career; such a language is defined here as: English (for non-English speakers), Spanish, French, Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, German, Italian, Malay, Chinese, Dutch, Persian, Romanian, Serbian, or Swahili (not all languages are available at all schools). High schools shall provide optional programming in Spanish plus two other languages.

I'm emphasizing Spanish just because of the large population of Hispanics in Atlasia. But I'd have no problem striking that specificity from my last sentence.

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14.) To graduate high school, students shall be required to take at least three years of a useful foreign language at any level of their educational career; such a language is defined here as: English (for non-English speakers), Spanish, French, Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, German, Italian, Malay, Chinese, Dutch, Persian, Romanian, Serbian, or Swahili (not all languages are available at all schools). High schools shall provide optional education in at least three different languages.

I like the requirement that there be at least three languages to choose from (not just ramming all kids into Spanish or French or such), but I don't think having them all have Spanish is necessary; Spanish is pretty widespread so maybe 70-80% of the schools would get it, but there's probably some communities where another language is actually more widespread than Spanish, so it's better to leave it up to the school districts to decide what works best for them.
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HagridOfTheDeep
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« Reply #2644 on: May 19, 2012, 02:04:28 pm »
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works for me.
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Yelnoc
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« Reply #2645 on: May 19, 2012, 03:54:58 pm »
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The problem with pushing the language requirements back to middle school is that you are forcing middle schools to hire more language teachers, necessitating more spending.  Meanwhile, poor high school will likely fire their foreign language department.  I do like the idea of making language learning more available in earlier years, I'm just not sure that top-down mandates will have the desired effect.

On the topic of wasted time in language learning, the problem is in the method.  School language classes emphasize learning grammar and reading, while speaking is almost entirely overlooked.  Nobody wants to read passages out of the book for fear of mispronouncing words and, since this is usually the only time the language is spoken aloud barring speaking finals (which most people fail), the language is never spoken.  You can't learn to speak without speaking!!!  So if we are interested in producing generations of bilingual* students we will need to completely change the way we change languages.

That isn't to say the current school setting is not without benefits.  A lot of people who have taken multiple years of language in high school know a lot of the language; they just cannot process another speaker and then find the relevant response in the other language quickly enough to hold a conversation.  To take a break from Atlasia for a moment, you guys really ought to check out Fluentin3Months.  This guy is fluent in eight languages and has learned half a dozen others in three month challenges which he blogs about.  He just completed learning Mandarin Chinese in three months which require total immersion and dedication coupled with constantly trying to speak every person he met while staying in Taiwan.  Obviously those conditions cannot be replicated in a classroom setting and as a forum game it's not like we can create a commission to find better ways to learn languages, so I'm at a loss as to how to make our language classes better teachers of language.  Perhaps we shouldn't try meddling with those sorts of specification and leave that up to the school districts?

I actually support Hagrid's original suggestion.  He merely stipulated that Spanish had to be one of the three languages offered by a school, not that everyone has to take Spanish.  Over 10% of Americans (+30 million) speak Spanish, so it is a very good language to know even for people who never plan on travelling abroad.  If you do though, Spanish opens up almost the entire western hemisphere.  Additionally, because of the large hispanic minority in the United States, it should be easy for schools to find Spanish instructors regardless of their location.  I cannot think of anywhere in America where three languages barring English are more spoken than Spanish. 

As to how long students should be required to take a language, I stand by two years.  It's the current requirement in Georgian schools, which I think works well.  If the student is not interested in language he does not have to take a third year.  And if he really wants to learn his target language, he can take a language class every year.  Make language optional and you will have a number of IDS students unable to get into prestigious colleges because they do not meet foreign language requirements.  For example, the University of Georgia requires two years of language in high school, but unless some other part of your application stands out, you won't get in unless you have three years.

*The definition of fluency is contentious.  When I say bilingual I don't mean a person who grew up speaking two languages, but rather the speaker of one language who speaks a second well enough to be mistaken for a native.
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HagridOfTheDeep
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« Reply #2646 on: May 19, 2012, 04:23:40 pm »
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So we emphasize foreign language options in middle school, cut the mandatory language courses down to two years in high school, and isolate Spanish as an important language to learn?

I could get behind that.

But you are right about the staffing issues, Yelnoc. To sidetrack a bit... Ontario barely has enough French teachers. So to encourage people to go into teaching French, teacher education programs are really compromising on their requirements. So the quality of French teachers is horrendous--you are garaunteed a job if you want to teach French and there is zero competition.

I think your suggestions strike a good balance and would avoid this problem.
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SJoyce
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« Reply #2647 on: May 19, 2012, 04:49:04 pm »
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University of Florida requires three, I believe, while my school district mandates three to graduate, which is my logic for setting it to three. I hadn't considered precisely how; I was going to leave it up to the school districts. As to Spanish/other languages, I didn't want to put in a mandate of what language the school offers; if they can't find a Spanish-speaking person for some reason, I don't want to punish them because they could only find French, Malay, and Swahili teachers.
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IDS Attorney General PiT
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« Reply #2648 on: May 19, 2012, 05:33:38 pm »
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     Yelnoc is right, language schooling in the United States is not conducive to actually learning how to use a language. I would suggest allowing students to knock out two or even all three years of language schooling by instead spending a year in studies abroad in a country where English is not an official language. Such a policy would also mitigate the issue of limited language options in a certain community.
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Yelnoc
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« Reply #2649 on: May 19, 2012, 06:08:53 pm »
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University of Florida requires three, I believe, while my school district mandates three to graduate, which is my logic for setting it to three. I hadn't considered precisely how; I was going to leave it up to the school districts. As to Spanish/other languages, I didn't want to put in a mandate of what language the school offers; if they can't find a Spanish-speaking person for some reason, I don't want to punish them because they could only find French, Malay, and Swahili teachers.
So long as we don't put any teeth in this bill, the districts won't get in trouble for not hiring Spanish teachers if none are available.  It just forces them to hire Spanish teachers if some are available.  Hagrid does point out a problem with this though; school districts should not hire awful Spanish teachers simply because there are no alternatives.  Hmm...any ideas to prevent that?

     Yelnoc is right, language schooling in the United States is not conducive to actually learning how to use a language. I would suggest allowing students to knock out two or even all three years of language schooling by instead spending a year in studies abroad in a country where English is not an official language. Such a policy would also mitigate the issue of limited language options in a certain community.
This is a great idea.  Perhaps when they come back for graduation they can be tested on whether to receive two or three years of credit?
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