Why Teachers Canít Teach
September 1, 2001
By Tom Barrett, Editor@ConservativeTruth.org
I LOVE AMERICA. I believe it is the greatest nation on the face of the earth. Thatís why I was extremely upset to see a report which showed that U.S. studentsí scores on math and science tests were well below those of teens from around the world. U.S. twelfth-graders ranked 19th out of 21 developed nations. Math and science! Ring any bells? These are the subjects that students must master in order to fully utilize computers. The computers which are essential to virtually every technological advance.
I realize that there are many types of greatness. This has been a great Christian nation which has sent thousands of missionaries all over the world to help others. Our nation is great in its generosity to others, through the Peace Corps and through many financial aid programs. We have the greatest Constitution and constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms of any nation. Our greatness in technology has advanced science and the standard of living for people the world over. (Yes, other countries manufacture many of the modern marvels we enjoy today more cheaply than we can, but WE invented them.) We USED to be great in education. Sadly, that is not the case today.
When the report was released, I wasnít the only one who was upset. Almost everyone, from Congress to parentsí groups decried the shame of the greatest nationís children scoring almost dead last in math and science. Unfortunately, one group seemed strangely unconcerned: the teacherís colleges of our country.
While America was embarrassed before the whole world, Columbia Teacherís College held workshops on cultural and political "oppression," in which students role-played ways to "usurp the existing power structure." While parents were searching for reasons for the failure of our schools, teachersí colleges continued to lecture on self-actualization, "following oneís joy", social adjustment, multicultural sensitivity and community-building. Anything but how to teach young minds the subjects they need to succeed in the world.
We all laugh when we hear people talk about "psycho-babble." The edu-babble that is spouted by education professors is less funny and a lot more dangerous. Itís dangerous because students leave these colleges and become school administrators and officers of the NEA (the national teachers union). In these positions they are able to influence what and how our children are taught. As a result, schools are de-emphasizing traditional learning, and placing emphasis on feel-good liberal favorites such as "discovering oneís self" and "constructing oneís own knowledge." Perhaps Iím old-fashioned, but it seems to me that the world would be a better place if we all worked off the same knowledge. Itís a lot less confusing that way. Even when real subjects are discussed, they are couched in Ed-speak: one doesnít just write, one is "given permission to think on the paper"; one doesnít converse, one "negotiates meaning."
What have all these "improvements" to the educational process brought us besides our studentís miserable performance in math and science? According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress ( http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/about/trend.asp), reading is also a serious problem area. Less than half of children in grades four, eight and twelve read at a proficient level. Only 31% of all fourth-graders, and 12% of black fourth-graders read at their grade level.
By the end of fifth grade, poor children are two and a half years behind wealthy kids in all subject areas. Behind by fifty percent! A big part of this problem is our antiquated nine month school schedule. When public schools got their start, children were needed three months of the year to harvest crops. Today less than two percent of school-age children live on farms. Yet this ridiculous system is as revered as if it were one of the Ten Commandments. There have been attempts at reform, but the teacherís union, supported by the Democrats, has beaten them all down. Children of wealthy families continue their education during mentally stimulating summer vacations. Poor kids are often left to fend for themselves. If Democrats cared for "the children" as much as their political ads claim, they would support these reforms to give poor kids more and better education, instead of fighting them.
Dr. Jay Wile, PhD., a Professor of Nuclear Chemistry at the University of Rochester, in a lecture in Orlando about the crisis in our schools, noted that his students who came from home-school backgrounds consistently out-performed both public and private school students in every type of standardized testing. For instance, home-schooled students average 67 points higher on the SATís than the national average, about 10% better that traditionally-schooled students. He wanted to find out why parents, most of whom have no training in education, could teach their children so much better than certified teachers. So he started studying teacherís colleges.
Dr. Wile found that students in the Schools of Education on university campuses have SAT scores which are on average 100 points lower than those of the general student population. In other words, the brighter students are going into other fields. This is a reflection of the small value our society places on education. If teachers were paid as much as the garbage collectors in most cities, we could attract better qualified applicants. He also found that grading standards for education students were much more lax than in other disciplines. For example, at his own University in Indiana, the College of Arts and Sciences gave "Aís" to only about 18% of students. The College of Educationís percentage of "Aís" was 62%.
But the problem is not only the low standards in teacherís colleges, and the pap that they teach in place of real educational principles. Teachers have also been very resistant to any form of accountability. They fight teacher testing, perhaps with good reason. A recent study showed that many New York City teachers could not pass the exams they were giving to their students. In Massachusetts 59 teachers failed an 8th grade test in writing and math.
Teachers also oppose merit-based pay increases and promotions. These policies, successful in the few school systems that have used them, reward teachers who teach well. Like all unions, the teacherís union wants everyone to be treated the same in pay and promotions regardless of whether or not they do their jobs.
Many teachers love their work, and spend their own time increasing their knowledge and abilities by taking continuing education courses and obtaining advanced degrees. But the average school teacher in the United States get only eight hours of training each year. Barbers and hairdressers are required to get more continuing education than that, and they only take care of the few hairs we have left. These people are influencing our childrenís minds and morals!
One last thought. Public school students attend four years of school, nine months each year, to obtain their high school diplomas. They could take a twelve week prep course and receive a GED (high school equivalency diploma) which certifies that they have learned the same material. What takes place in the 36 months of high school that is left out of the three month GED training? Well, they miss out on a lot of "fluff": socialization, pop psychology, and indoctrination in areas that most parents prefer their children not receive (such as anti-American propaganda and "sensitivity" training by homosexual activists).
They might miss valuable training on how to cook or hammer nails, things which their parents have normally taught them at home. And they donít experience the joys of running around and around the track during PE. Then thereís the prom, football games, and pep rallies. Have I mentioned anything that is worthwhile? What they DO learn is math, writing and other skills that will make them employable, subjects that SHOULD be the emphasis in four-year high schools. Oh, I almost forgot. Students must be able to READ to take the GED. That is not required to graduate from most high schools.
Parents and grandparents, you had better get involved before itís too late. Donít just sit back and wait for someone else to do something about this sorry state of affairs. YOU are the "someone else." The Bible says that if a father doesnít take care of his family, he is worse than an infidel. Taking care of your family involves a lot more than just providing for them financially. If you donít get involved, your child may be one of the millions of functionally illiterate students who graduate from our high schools every year.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HOW YOUR CHILDíS SCHOOL COMPARES WITH OTHERS? A new Heritage Foundation Web site may be the answer. Www.heritage.org/reportcards provides access to school rating reports not only for parents seeking information on schools they might want to put their child into, but also for those seeking more information on the school their child already is in. Compiled by Heritage education analyst Thomas Dawson and researcher Mira Zawadzki, "Report Card Report: Americaís Best Web Sites for School Profiles," is a valuable resource not only for parents, but also educators and lawmakers. The Heritage report card Web site provides links to scores of Web sites that provide a range of information on schools in districts across the nation, including academic rankings, test scores, student-teacher ratios, enrollment totals, per-student expenditures, and percentages of special-education students.
THIS ARTICLE EXPLAINS WHY ONLY 27% OF EIGHT-GRADERS ARE PROFICIENT IN MATH. Focus on the Family has an interesting take on how math teachers are paid. Read it at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/A0017288.html
CAMPUS PORN CLASSES SPREADING: Some schools are combining Shakespeare and pornography. Read the article at: www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0017441.html
THIS SUBSCRIBER DOESNíT WANT TO BE JUST A SPECTATOR. I WISH MORE AMERICANS FELT THAT WAY!
"In 1999 I proudly became a U.S. Citizen. Prior to that event I diligently studied most of this great nationís history, especially its Christian heritage. I did it because I wanted to understand and to feel the privilege of being a U.S. citizen. I will never forget when I pledged my allegiance to the flag of the United States of America for the first time. With tears in my eyes, I thanked God for America and for the great privilege of being an American citizen. I also felt a great responsibility to help restore the family values that the Founding Fathers gave us. I donít want to be just a spectator. I want to know what is happening to my America and how I can help to protect our values. I appreciate Conservative Truth because it has made me a better citizen. It INFORMS me of the current issues and FORMS a godly and balanced plan for action. Thanks, brother Tom. You are a true American citizen. Yours, Daniel Arbolaez."
A REMARKABLE OBSERVATION. "In response to the announced retirement of Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour had this to say: íI didnít agree with him on everything, but thank goodness he was willing to throw tacks in the road to stop something that was injurious to our freedom or that conflicted with our limited, republican form of government.í Wow. When was the last time you heard a top political figure in this country properly and correctly identify our form of government as a írepublic,í not a ídemocracy?í Not to mention the fact that itís supposed to be ílimited.í Gold star, Mr. Barbour." Thanks to Chuck Muth of GOP News & Views.
DEMOCRAT SPY RECEIVES ONE YEAR IN PRISON. "A judge on Friday sentenced a former aide to George W. Bushís presidential campaign to a year in jail for mailing secret debate material to Democratic rival Al Goreís campaign and then lying about it to a grand jury. Juanita Lozano, who pleaded guilty to mail fraud and perjury, admitted she leaked a 60-minute videotape of then-Republican candidate Bush practicing for a campaign debate and 120 pages of confidential debate material to a Gore associate. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks also gave the former Democratic precinct chairwoman three yearsí probation and fined her $3,000.00." Reuters, 8/31/01