Here we provide the reader with some example posts from both classes. We drew these from the data after reading through the forums, and tried to select posts that were representative of the topics and threads that showed the most partisan divergence in our data. We used the STM functionality to select four posts from every topic mentioned in the main text. We first selected the ten posts which had the highest estimated prevalence of each topic. We the selected the four shortest posts from that list of ten, for brevity. The resulting posts are listed below.
Time commitments (Saving Schools #1)
"I currently teach two 5th grade Reading classes. One class with 30 students and one with 22 students. These are heterogeneously grouped classes, with reading levels that span at least 2 grade levels in each class. I am expected to do a 20 minute whole group lesson, and then three small group lessons, one below grade level, one on grade level, and one above grade level. I also need to provide meaningful, leveled independent work for students while I'm meeting with the other groups. And don't forget about meeting the objectives/skills of my students who have IEP and 504s. There is too much being put on the plates of teachers."
"I once heard that being a teacher is like being a lawyer who is in court all day long. Your prep work including lesson planning, grading papers, tutoring students, contacting parents all happens outside of that time. Please tell me how it is humanly possible for a teacher to grade 150 papers and plan lessons and write assessments every day in a 60 minute conference period. Until someone can explain that, they cannot argue that teachers work shorter days. That exact comment in the second article made me cringe. That and the one about how easy it is for teachers to call in substitutes. Really? If you mean going in at ten o'clock at night or 6 in the morning to write a plan for the substitute which won't be followed anyway."
" **thank you** for pointing out the challenge of having a second career during vacation times. I am a high school English teacher. I work at least eight hours a day (the school day is 6.5 hours and I spend at least 1.5 hours working at my desk or at home, plus a couple of hours a week advising student clubs). I work a minimum of 4-6 hours every weekend. That's when I have planning to do and homework to check, but *don't* have a pile of essays waiting to be graded. I rely on the summer to take courses and earn PDPs in order to maintain licensure, improve my craft, and, yes, advance my salary. So I do not have time to get another job during the summer."
"I am paid relatively well--certainly better than national averages--so I am not complaining at all for myself. But I take issue with anyone who says teachers have the summers "“off,”" so they can just take vacations or get a second career. I put so many hours in during the school year that I rely on the summer time to catch up with other professional demands."
"The best teaching situation I ever had was at a public middle school where I taught in a team with two other teachers, we met the parents of the all of the students, we had block scheduling (we could divide the morning hours however we chose), and we had a block of planning time (2 periods) EVERY DAY when the three of us could coordinate our efforts. The class was a 7/8 mix and students stayed with us for 2 years. These were not privileged kids and it was not a wealthy community, but a new principal came in and gave us 100% freedom within our team. The test results in the years I was there were positive and significant, especially for the students who had been lagging. We all knew what would be tested, but we were free to teach however we wanted--our team used an experiential, inter-disciplinary approach. I couldn't wait to get to work, and our attendance records suggested the vast majority of our students felt the same way. That was more than twenty years ago, and I haven't heard of anything like it recently, but the freedom, money and (these days) safety to do that would make a big difference. "
Teacher certifications (Saving Schools #3)
"If you eliminate paying teachers more for a Master's degree, would you start all teachers at a higher salary to begin with? "
"I can tell you that I retired from the military (Navy, Commander) and then became a teacher. I have two master's degrees and a doctorate. The requirements to become a teacher are frustratingly bureaucratic."
"I feel that teachers are underpaid. They should be paid according too how they perform. As they show teachers are getting paid more say getting a Masters Degree but in studies it has showen that they show no better performance than teachers without a Masters."
"Here is an overview of the Stanford Hollyhock Fellowship Program that aims to improve teacher retention given that nearly half of all teachers leave the classroom within five years: [link]"
Liberal Complaints (Saving Schools #11)
"The people who were for desegregation stopped working for it once it was implanted, as they only fought for their political ideals."
"As elected officials, they should be the voice of the people. Politics does unfortunately play a role, so our voice is not always heard."
"Really disappointed to hear that only 10-15% of people vote in school board elections. I knew it was probably low, but not that low. Seems to reflect our priorities."
"I agree mostly, and while working as a journalist, I definitely saw times where unions wanted school boards to think of absolutely everything but the children. In general though, I think unions are good or bad dependent on their individual leadership, not the concept, although I'm less supportive of unions in public than private settings."
Teacher compensation (Saving Schools # 22)
"I would think battle pay is reasonable, merit pay is controvercial and market pay is not good."
"Among the three types of teacher pay, market pay and battle pay seem to be less controversial and supported by data. The implementation of merit pay needs to be supported by the teachers being subjected and a collaborative environment."
"I'd say all three, but especially battle pay and market pay, because they can be implemented in the capitalist sense in response to supply and demand. If these pay scales are in effect, then the tough jobs or the jobs that are accepted in lieu of private sector positions will have to compensate competitively in order to be filled at all. And the better the compensation, then the better the candidates that are willing to take them."
"The disparity between the two articles appears to indicate, again, that it is not what we pay teachers but how we pay them. Teachers are not paid based on merit. Systems based largely on seniority alone tend to encourage the weakest to remain. Passionately motivated individuals work hard to achieve results and receive the same compensation as an individual who merely has a pulse. As talented individuals watch everyone move ahead and get paid the same increases for longevity, they become discouraged and many leave."
School board governance (Saving Schools #18)
"I personally don't believe in school boards. I feel that school boards should function much like company boards - hire an effective CEO (superintendent) and let that person run the corporation (school system). Of course the key is hiring an "effective” CEO.”
"The problems with school boards, particularly how political they are, are disheartening. I understand the impulse to eliminate them altogether. Yet, the local community needs to have a say in their local schools and the school board meetings is a way for local community to be involved and to have a voice. A more top-down approach allocating the school board decisions to a mayor, or state and federal government would lead to less buy in and more resentment. When the people they have a say, or simply the option of having a say, more collaboration ensues."
"As an advocate for innovation and school choice, I agree with [name] that local school boards should be more of a board of trustees, and less involved in the day-to-day operations of the district. But I strongly disagree that the superintendent should be a state employee under the civil-service rules. If the local school board is responsible for the overall performance of the local district (as a board of trustees would be) and the superintendent is the CEO of that district, or the person ultimately responsible for the performance, then the superintendent should be hired by and be responsible to the local board."
"I'd be very curious to see more specific examples of the difference in school districts/school boards around the States, especially between very different communities i.e. a small rural school district versus a big city school district. I do think some local control via school boards or campus based committees as mentioned above are good, but of course it can be tricky to avoid corrupt officials leading these groups. I have heard my fair share of complaints about corrupt school district officials growing up and attending school in the Philadelphia school district! In the past few years the Philly school district has gone through a ton of turmoil. Here's an interesting article on it: [link]"
Common core (Saving Schools # 26)
"Common core appears to be a step in the right direction to national standards of excellence. However, its success or failure will be determined by implementation."
"I support states adopting the common core. The standards and supporting curriculum guidelines are a significant educational move toward skills required in the 21st century."
"The Common Core standards would give people a easy way to evaluate students' proficiency between states. It would also be standards for educational staffs to know where they are and where they want to go. I support states to adopting the Common Core standards."
"Yes, Texas does have its own Core Standards. It is similar to the Common Core. I would like to see how Texas Core Standards compare with CCSS. Which is more rigorous? How are students' performance compared on Texas Core Standards vs. Common Core State Standards?"
Racial achievement gaps (Saving Schools # 29)
"Desegregation without integration is not a benefit, neither is it equal.. All need to be treated equally and receive the same education and benefits."
"i agree that other forms of institutional racism beyond schools impact the achievement of minority students in the united states. simply declaring segregation to be unlawful will not lessen the impact of other forms of discrimination and inequity. integration doesn't alleviate the economic disparity between different racial groups."
"It is often said that desegregation wasnt intended to raise student achievement. Rather, it was meant to fix a social condition of inequality. Simply mixing races within a school doesnt change root causes for low achievement, such as low-income status, parental education levels, or the actual quality of instruction. Although desegregation hasnt driven up student achievement as many had hoped, I still believe it has an important legacy. It was a deliberate attempt to improve equality amongst children, and might be more symbolic than anything else. It showed that addressing racial inequality had entered the national conscious, and that is a major step forward. Hopefully, in the future, the lingering issues that cause unequal achievement will also be addressed, furthering the legacy of equality in the United States."
"I am appreciative of desegregation and grateful to those who came before me who were willing to put their lives on the line in order to see the movement materialize. When I think about the many atrocities that African Americans endured prior to and since desegregation, I am saddened. Desegregation has had an indelible impact on generations of people, not just those of African ancestry. It is true that student achievement levels may or may not have been raised following desegregation-the playing field has yet to be leveled. There are many reasons (some deep rooted)as to why achievement levels have not been raised since desegregation was legally put in place. Nevertheless, many have benefited from desegregation and I am hopeful that our progeny will face no boundaries in the future as they live and thrive as students and as human beings. "
Abstract Principles (American Government #4)
"The first thing a person should become is student of human nature. By nature people are selfish and self centered. They can be noble on occasion and with our ability to learn might grow----- but don't bet your farm on it."
"it seems that many religious people are able to find a "“middle ground”" on same sex marriage. They still see it is a sin but see the sinners as God's children worthy of their love. I understand your comment on wedding cakes etc but couldn't I use the same or similar argument with Jews ( they killed Jesus), blacks-(slave honor your master), etc? If I am in the cake business shouldn't it about cakes and not who sleeps with who? "
"Regarding your natural law argument it seems this is dependent on when you consider the fetus as a human being? If it is from the moment of conception, when it is viable outside the womb or something else? And what of the woman's natural right to her own body? What about rape and incest? On same sex marriage, what about the natural rights of the same sexers to love and dignity? While I concede the contribution of religion to morality, atheists can also have and contribute to the morality of the community. Morality is not dependent on religion."
"Yes, a relatively unspoken example of de facto discrimination is the undermining of Black families by removing black fathers from households. In slavery families were often broken up and sold separately. In this and the last century, Welfare rules denied benefits to any home where an able bodied man lived regardless of his ability to find a job. The incarceration of many black men is another way in which the structure of black families is undermined. Although outright discrimination against black families was never written into the laws, the effect of policy and regulation manifests a discriminatory result."
Interest Group Lobbying (American Government #5)
"Corporations or ecomomic-based special interest groups have financial resources available to them that other non-economic groups do not have. In addition, they can offer benefits such as jobs to their members. Non-economic groups have to rely on fundraising and are hit hard by those who do not contribute but may benefit."
"Economic groups have access to financial resources that allow for better organization and influencing politicians. Non-economic groups suffer due to low financial resources and lack of a strong organized effort. The free-rider problem refers to people enjoying public goods without contributing to the effort or joining the organization."
"Free riders get the benefits of whatever is passed without attaching their name to it. Lobbying groups are organized around economic interests because these groups have resources such as corporate profits. They usually are successful. In contrast, non-economic interests have to rely on voluntary donations to support their lobbying efforts. They are usually unorganized
"American lobbying groups organized around economic interests, particularly business firms because these firms are able to provide financial backing to these groups. Money generated from their business activities. Non-economic groups are force to raise their own funds to support their cause, funds which usual comes from donations. Also, these non-economic groups are faced with the issue of the "free rider" problem people who are benefiting from the group activity and policy goals do not fund or participate in the push for the non-economic group's political agenda."
Supreme Court (American Government #10)
"Justices on the Supreme Court tend to be picked for political reasons and adhere to those through their lifetimes. For example conservatives judges are picked by conservative politicians."
"The Supreme Court decisions are so important because unlike lower courts there is no appeal. The Supremes are nominated by a president and generally follow partisan politics. Studies of court decisions bear out this simple observation. Because the Supremes are the final say, deal with issues of distribution of power and generally stick to appellate decisions, politics plays a greater role in their decisions than lower courts.
"Judicial restraint holds that judges should generally defer to precedent and to decisions made by legislatures Judicial activism holds that judges should actively interpret the Constitution, statutes, and precedents in light of fundamental principles and should intervene when elected representatives fail to act in accord with these principles"
"Judicial restraint suggests that the court narrowly construes the law and reviews the matter for its legality without saying what the law means or how it is to be interpreted. Sebelius case being an example. Judicial activism is when the court reviews a matter and interprets what the law means and announces its interpretation suggesting what is permissible under the law as interpreted by the court. Citizens v. Fed Elect."
Conservative Complaints (American Government #13)
"Republican still have religious values as part of their political strategy as oppose to Democrats with a my liberal strategy."
"Democratic strategies tend to move towards the social issue of whatever cause it is, whereas Republicans gravitate towards the moral issue of that cause."
"Republicans hold stronger religious values than democrats and liberals. for those support republicans are often those who go to church regularly, they more likely tend to oppose same-sex marriage, gay rights, and abortions."
"The Republican Party attracts conservatives and evangelicals while the Democratic Party attracts women and liberals. Republicans balked at court rulings regarding women's rights, abortion, and the growth of the counterculture movement. Democrats focus on LGBT issues and women's rights."
International trade (American Government #17)
"Democrats and labor union tend to protect blue workers' jobs through Protectionism, while republicans favor free trade."
"Free trade advocates reduced or eliminated tariffs to encourage trade and access to products and services abroad. Protectionism proposes higher tariffs on imports to protect domestic firms. Republicans favor free trade while Democrats oppose them, since they represent labor groups that are threatened by labor moved overseas."
"Demand-side economics puts money directly in consumer’s hands, while supply-side economics benefits through tax cuts to businesses and the upper-class. Democrats tend to support demand-side economics because it supports the lower incomes, while supply-side economics is usually supported by Republicans because those are the entities that support them.
"Protectionism and free trade are opposites. Protectionism is when tariffs are levied on goods made abroad to protect domestic jobs. Free trade is elimination of tariffs so that goods flow freely between borders. Specific industries where goods can be product cheaply produced abroad favor protectionism. Multinational companies favor free trade since it allows them to sell their goods abroad more cheaply."
National security (American Government #25)
"George W Bush told the American public that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and had that message dominate the American media with this information until the American public and Congress gave Bush support for the war. The sentiment of the American public can be a determent to the President initiating war."
"After the World War II, the U.S. had a advantage over other nations. Its manufacturing grown during the war and was intact at the ended. The opposite of other nations that their factories had been destroyed by the end of the war. So the U.S. manufactured goods to sell to the ones need of imported goods. But some of them like Germany and Japan rebuilt their manufacturing sectors."
"President Bush made speeches to the public where he declared an "axis of evil" which necessitated the going declaring of war in Afghanistan and later in Iraq. He falsified intelligence information and presented it to the UN as justification of American use of force. The Congress could have held its own investigation of the intelligence and withheld its needed declaration of war. Congress could have withheld the funds for the war effort before troops were in harms way."
"To build support for the War in Iraq, George Bush did a few things:
George Bush slowly revealed his plan to attack Iraq in many speeches beforehand. Instilling the name of Iraq in the public’s mind was the first step.
Bush enacted a new doctrine, the Preemptive War Doctrine. This stated that the US could not wait to be attacked, as it will be too late. This gave the power of the president to go to war, based on the premise that the US will be attacked or harmed.
Citing intelligence reports, Bush asked Congress to declare war on Iraq because they were starting to gather weapons of mass destruction.
Bush’s message about Iraq and weapons of mass destrction was quoted over 10× more than that of the opposition. The message he wanted the public to hear was broadcast to them whether they wanted to hear it or not."
Delineating disagreement (American Government #29)
"Extreme weather events are not hard to see. When their water runs out people more people will start to understand! ".
"The controversy of “Obamacare" aside, would you eliminate the EPA and FDA? Most people want the safety of our food and drugs regulated (FDA). Most people want clean air and water (EPA)."
"How about the constitutionality of these programs? When people are too indoctrinated to know the Constitution, don't you think that the government conditions people to think the way the government wants? So of course people agree with them."
"I think as we go though the next 16 weeks (or whatever this is?) you will find we agree about much and the disagreements will be on the 'what to do about it?" part. As I’ve said above, persistent problems are complex, with no easy answers.”