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December 13, 2011

Education 2011: Who said what

Connie Matthiessen, Associate Editor

From pundits to politicos, 2011 has provided no shortage of folks ranting and raving about the state of U.S. education and proposing reforms — from tougher parenting to revamping teachers' unions to putting kids to work as janitors. Here is a collection of some of this year's education voices. See if you know who said what about education in 2011.

Match these speakers to the following quotes (answers below):

  • Peter Thiel, PayPal founder and CEO
  • Condoleezza Rice, Former U.S. Secretary of State
  • President Barack Obama
  • Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
  • Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
  • Steven Brill, author of Class Warfare: Inside the fight to fix America's schools
  • Thomas L Friedman, New York Times columnist
  • Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System
  • Mike Petrilli, Executive Editor, Education Next
  • Newt Gingrich, Republican presidential candidate
  • Nicolas D.Kristof, New York Times columnist

1. "...I think the biggest single problem we've got is the K-12 education system. ..when I look out there and I see that I can look at your zip code and tell whether or not you're gonna get a good education, that's gonna go right to the core of who we are as Americans… I think it's gonna drive us into class warfare like we've never seen because education, even in the segregated South, was always the way that you got out….With the failing public schools, I worry that the the way that my grandparents got out of poverty…is just not gonna be there for a whole bunch of kids…"

2. "…You need the unions to be a part of this process of turning the failure of America's schools around. And simply eliminating the unions from the equation, as the Governor in Wisconsin has basically tried to do, doesn't solve anything. In fact, it's a step in the wrong direction. The idea is to have a constant political climate where you're pushing the unions to create schools that are good for the kids, not just good for the adults.”

3. "…The question isn’t whether we can afford early childhood education, but whether we can afford not to provide it. We can pay for prisons or we can pay, less, for early childhood education to help build a fairer and more equitable nation…."

 4. "…Families are children’s most important educators. Our society must invest in parental education, prenatal care and preschool….If every child arrived in school well-nourished, healthy and ready to learn, from a family with a stable home and a steady income, many of our educational problems would be solved. And that would be a miracle. "

5. "…Education also teaches you the value of discipline – that the greatest rewards come not from instant gratification but from sustained effort and from hard work.  This is a lesson that’s especially true today, in a culture that prizes flash over substance, that tells us that the goal in life is to be entertained, that says you can be famous just for being famous.  …” 

6. "…The greatest challenge facing America’s schools today isn’t the budget crisis, or standardized testing, or 'teacher quality.' It’s the enormous variation in the academic level of students coming into any given classroom. How we as a country handle this challenge says a lot about our values and priorities, for good and ill...."

7."…To be sure, there is no substitute for a good teacher. There is nothing more valuable than great classroom instruction. But let’s stop putting the whole burden on teachers. We also need better parents. Better parents can make every teacher more effective."

8. "… Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best. Chinese parents can say, 'You're lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you.' By contrast, Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement, and try to persuade themselves that they're not disappointed about how their kids turned out."

9. “…Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they’d have pride in the schools, they’d begin the process of rising.”

10. "...That is the thing that has been the most mind blowing for me watching [the education] debate, and after sitting through the Wall Street debates, and the tax-cut debates, to see people blaming the avarice of teachers. Or the idea that, 'hey they only work nine months a year.' God forbid, you do the job of a teacher for a year. It will blow your mind at how hard —  My mother was a teacher for years. She is still in the education field. I couldn't be more impressed by the work she did in her life. Those people have no idea. "

11. "…I estimate that 70 to 80 percent of the colleges in the U.S. are not generating a positive return on investment. Even at the top universities, it may be positive in some sense — but the counterfactual question is, how well would their students have done had they not gone to college? Are they really just selecting for talented people who would have done well anyway? Or are you actually educating them?"

Answers:1) Condoleezza Rice  2) Steven Brill 3) Nicolas D. Kristof  4) Diane Ravitch 5) President Barack Obama  6) Mike Petrilli 7) Thomas L. Friedman 8) Amy Chua 9) Newt Gingrich  10) Jon Stewart 11) Peter Thiel 




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