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CLT&G Update
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 achieve it.

Chip Ford --

The Boston Herald
Wednesday, July 29, 1998

Editorial:  Scattershot teacher plan

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 quickly learned.

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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