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Wednesday, July 22, 1998
The Boston Herald, being too kind, calls it "scattershot." We taxpayer
activists, being blunt and unforgiving, call it what it is: scatter-brained.
Just how much must we pay in tribute to the
"education industrial complex" for its failed policies and our illiterate
children before enough is enough?
How many more millions of tax dollars must we throw
at dumbing down the kids before we recognize that, thanks to its "advocates,"
the system is designed to fail?
And when will the good teachers across the
commonwealth wake up to the fact that the first step in restoring "dignity and
nobility" to their profession is breaking the chains of the teachers union and
liberating themselves enough to earn our respect!
Teachers know what's got to be done to recover at
least some self-respect -- or they should by now. They know that the sleazy union is the
biggest obstacle to their attaining it.
How badly do teachers really want
"dignity and nobility" -- because serfs, slaves, and union hacks will never
Chip Ford --
The Boston Herald
Wednesday, July 29, 1998
There are a few good ideas in the
package of proposals to improve teaching on which the political leadership of
Massachusetts has agreed. The task of the Board of Education this fall and the Legislature
next year is to sift them out of a mass of useless measures.
The plan generally reflects a yearning
to make teaching something like medicine, a profession. But there is no core of
specialized knowledge that underlies teaching, as the biological sciences form the basis
of the art of medicine. Teaching is a craft. The necessary pedagogical techniques are
The dirty little secret of teaching is
that able young men and women are repelled by the mindless "majoring in recess,"
as one of them once put it, that goes on in our teacher training establishments.
"Future teacher clubs" in middle school will not overcome this repulsion.
This mindlessness is why some leading
schools of education have average verbal SAT scores in the 400s, usually the lowest or
close to it of any field of study. Some of these students probably ought not to be in
college at all.
The teacher tests that ignited the
recent uproar did not ask one single question about pedagogical technique. They tested
knowledge of the subject matter, and the ability to read and write. Emphasis on technique,
such as designation of 1,000 "master teachers" by 2003 (a problematic idea,
since fewer than 1,000 have been designated in the entire country in more than a decade)
to mentor the rookies, won't help with subject matter.
Signup bonuses? Why not a re-enlistment
bonus, say after five years? The experience of the armed forces and the huge teacher
dropout rate suggest this is a better use of the $100 million the legislative leaders are
determined to reserve. Loan forgiveness? The state can't use all the money available now.
Easier entry into the classroom from other occupations? Rip out all the mindless
certification requirements that discourage it. Testing of current teachers in subject
matter? Should have been done long ago.
Education Commissioner David Driscoll
said he is aiming to restore the "dignity and nobility" of teaching. That's a
worthy goal, but this scattershot plan needs to be considerably more focused.
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