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Quote of the Day

Statistic du Jour

Mickey Kaus quoting Nicholas Kristof:

47 percent of America's kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers come from the bottom one-third of their college classes (as measured by SAT scores).

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Discussions - 6 Comments

"Until a few decades ago, employment discrimination perversely strengthened our teaching force. Brilliant women became elementary school teachers, because better jobs weren’t open to them. It was profoundly unfair, but the discrimination did benefit America’s children. "

There's a lot to digest in Kristoff's article that is, largely, true. But addressing the problems he diagnoses in any meaningful way will require many on the left to give up ideological hobby horses that empower slackers and conservatives to give up their own sad habit of suggesting that "those who can, do and those who can't, teach." Good luck with that.

So, what accounts for this? The poor pay of k-12 teaching, or the security it offers these mediocrities? Let's find out! Bust the union and institute merit pay.

I might add that we also need to transform this labor-intensive industry. We are doing it about the same way our ancestors did centuries ago. Surely there's a better way that forcing youngsters to sit in ordered rows and listen to blah-blah-blah for 6 to 7 hours a day.

"Surely there's a better way that forcing youngsters to sit in ordered rows and listen to blah-blah-blah for 6 to 7 hours a day."

If only that resembled what I see in most schools! Where have you seen ordered rows in an American classroom within the last 10-15 years? I have not seen them--and what I see in their place is mainly a lack of order. Still plenty of blah, blah, blah . . . but much less absorption.

I'm not so recalcitrant as to believe that every educational reform in the last 60 years or so has produced a net negative . . . but I do think that there has been so much effort focused on "transforming" the educational experience (i.e., method) that we've neglected the single most important part of education: substance. Beyond the very early primary years when a teacher's performance was probably the most important determining factor in my ability to focus, I found that even a bad teacher (provided they offered good information) could teach me something.

But I'm with you all the way on merit pay . . . totally unpersuaded by arguments about the difficulty of implementation. It's always subjective? So what?

This is just a lot of anti-educator blather. There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.So what if 47% of educators finished in the bottom third? What about the 60% who finished in the top half? Why the negative spin?


Look carefully at your numbers. How would 60% of educators be in the top half of their college classes if 47% ARE IN THE BOTTOM THIRD? You must have been educated in mathematics in the public school system.

We all wish this was blather. We all wish educators in K-12 had received good educations and could deliver a good education to every student. Teaching at colleges means meeting the products of our public schools and observing the appalling standards of education evident in their writing, their reading comprehension and even their grasp of mathematics.

Teachers who tell me poorly educated public school graduates are not altogether their fault get my sympathy. There are a few other societal causes for poor educational performance. However, the numbers of students coming out of public schools who are functionally idiots is not a matter of negative spin or blather, it is a pitiful reality.

Most of the remainder probably graduated in the middle third...Kate is correct. PTBNEA must be a product of public education.

Colleges of education around the country are a JOKE. Their curricula are crazy and lack substance (e.g., multicultural learning), and they attract the bottom-feeders. Everyone knows this, even the liberals. Therefore, another reform is to eliminate the "teaching certificate" and with it the need for colleges of education. Let's make teacher preparation substance-heavy and worry about "pedagogy" as on-the-job-training. That's the way we run higher ed, and that's the way it should be in K-12.

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