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Taking the Point Position…On Teachers

It is hardly necessary to decry the test results of our California students. The numbers do not lie, The solution is to improve schools. That is not currently possible because the public has a cognitive disconnect between public schools in general and their school in particular.

Like attorneys and politicians, people hate them in general but love their own. "All (Politicians)(Lawyers)(Schools)(HMOs) are rotten, but my (Politician)(Lawyer)(School)(HMO) is excellent."

I served as in the administration ,and classroom, of a local university. I sat one afternoon while the President of the University read to the administration the recently recorded grades in the School of Education. The recitation went something like this: "Class A, 36 students, 36 "A" grades; Class B, 44 students, 44 "A" grades; Class C, 27 students, 27 "A" grades; Class …"

I was not surprised. I had been taking graduate courses in School of Education toward my second Masters Degree – and was constantly in the School Dean’s office complaining that our curriculum was not sufficiently rigorous and our classes were being dismissed early night after night.

To the credit of the Administration, they fought mightily to increase the standards and to keep students in the classroom for a full time period. It was a losing battle because if they actually enforced difficult courses and longer "seat time" the education students would go to another university.

The problem is that Schools of Education simply attract less well-prepared and less driven students than does, for example, the school in which I taught, Computer Science.

Over my 15 year, teaching of thousands of university students, I logged more than 5,000 hours in the classroom as a Professor. Many of the courses I taught, undergraduate and graduate programs, were required courses for graduation of all students. Before the School of Education developed their own technology teachers, I taught courses specifically for future teachers.

The students from the School of Education submitted the worst essays – and were (generally) the most vocal complainers about the amount of writing required in my class. Most of the students who dropped my classes rather than take a low grade or an "F" were from the School of Education.

Teachers are extremely important contributors to our society. Good teachers, they produce well-educated students. The rate of remedial education required for our current high school graduates at the college level, and our state competitive position vis a vis other states and our national competition vis a vis other industrialized nations argues that our teaching staffs in general are not up to the task.

It is an unarguable fact that Schools of Education attract students with SAT scores substantially below those SAT scores of other Schools. We must recruit and retain better quality teachers before we can produce better graduates.

Many teachers are excellent, but there is a huge subculture of teachers that should not be permitted to drive by a school. Massachusetts recently had a huge debate when the scores of their public school teachers were made public. The State has threatened to close some Schools of Education, the teachers’ scores were so bad. California teachers have opposed any testing of their teachers. As good as the Poway Unified School District is, being a good school district in California is like being the Best Dressed Man in Big Foot, Texas – the measure is against a diminished standard.

This is still a race between reform and revolution – and when the public finally gets over their "feel good" about public education there will be a revolution.


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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Allen Hemphill
Last modified: August 13, 2012