Taj Mahal High

To keep up with the $37 million school/palace down the road, the Fayetteville, Arkansas school board wants to replace Fayetteville High with a “21st century” building.

Buildings Don’t Teach Kids, People Do, writes Jay Greene, who will end up paying taxes for the new building.

We should invest much more in ensuring that we attract, retain, and motivate the best people as teachers rather than in “21st Century” facilities (whatever that blather means). The systematic evidence overwhelmingly shows that the quality of school facilities in the United States has no relationship to student achievement, while the quality of teachers is very strongly related.

Fayetteville may spend twice as much as the $93 per square foot that rival Har-Ber High cost, Greene writes. Why should it cost so much to build a school?

Meanwhile, Third World kids are learning in open-air shacks — and paying for the privilege.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. In Ohio we received a lot of money from the tobacco industry earmarked for new construction. Seems like one more aspect of our “newer is better, bigger is better, more is better” mentality. I wish we could take a cue from Europe and learn to live and revise the old.

    Anyway…I came to you from Open Salon. I just posted my first blog entry there–about education. I also do a humor blog–hence the word “fantasy”.

    Nice to meet you. Or shall I say read you?

  2. Andromeda says:

    Wait, $37 million counts as a palace? Newton, MA’s working on, like, a $200 million high school (the price tag keeps changing, and it’s a big political thing up here; fortunately I only live near, not in, Newton).

  3. Homeschooling Granny says:

    “The systematic evidence overwhelmingly shows that the quality of school facilities in the United States has no relationship to student achievement, while the quality of teachers is very strongly related.”

    Amen. And the other blade of the pair of scissors is parental support and involvement. Children whose parents value and enhance their education do better in every setting.

  4. Not exactly on point, but interesting nebertheless:

    “The budget should be balanced. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered, and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt.”

    Marcus Tullius Cicero

    Not that Obama et. al. would take this seriously, of course (nor Bush!)

  5. Catch Thirty-Thr33 says:

    Ragnarok – Nor anyone, even the taxpayers or voters who feel entitled to the government cookie jar.

  6. I don’t know about the ins and outs about this particular school, but I will say that a pleasant work environment (of which the building plays a significant part), is one of the keys to retaining good employees (read teachers). It probably doesn’t hurt student morale either (which I imagine has a fairly high correlation with attendance in problematic schools)

    As for the “students should be grateful for education” paradigm that’s circulating around here, let’s be realistic. We’re a long way from people starving on the streets, and a lot students having grown up free from absolute poverty but with massive exposure to relative poverty (via media). This means that many are not at all convinced that education is all that valuable to them.

    Of course, it is valuable to them in the long term, and it’s also valuable to us. As people who are benefiting the most from our current society, we have a very big stake in persuading these students to take the steps necessary to eventually become productive citizens, even if the students don’t see it as in their interests right now.

    That means taking whatever steps are necessary to achieve those results, and if that means providing some of the rewards up front rather than down the road, it’s a price that’s worth paying – for our benefit.

  7. Tom –
    “and if that means providing some of the rewards up front rather than down the road, it’s a price that’s worth paying – for our benefit.”

    And as you noted previously, the current motivators usually lose their effect over time, meaning that this ‘price’ will continuously move up and up.

    “We’re a long way from people starving on the streets.”

    Good point… history has shown that as nations become wealthy their focus shifts from working hard to enjoying life, resulting in disastrous consequences. Will we end up the same way?

  8. Good point… history has shown that as nations become wealthy their focus shifts from working hard to enjoying life, resulting in disastrous consequences. Will we end up the same way?

    I’d say it’s inevitable.

    It’s also why I don’t tend to single out any single person or group for criticism. It’s not as if anyone is really capable of standing against the flow of human evolution and history for more than a few moments. In general people simply react exactly as their biology and current society would have them act.

    (Not that it isn’t our responsibility to try to hold things off collapse for a while. But expecting others to take up that responsibility is neither realistic nor fair.)

  9. Tom West,

    Do you think it’s possible that the planet’s longest-lived cultures – China, India, Japan, Korea – might have stumbled on to something? That the US might have something to learn from them?

    High expectations are essential; so is earned praise (instead of the the routine “Fabulous! Awesome! Great!”); so is a sense of honour.

    But please do keep parroting the Apologist’s Prayer – so much less trouble, don’t you think?

Trackbacks

  1. […] with a “21st century” building. Buildings Don’t Teach Kids, People Do, writes Jay Greene, Read More|||I went to see the Taj Mahal! How can you be in India for 2 months and not see it, right? So I […]