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What We Must Do to Fix Education  

These are my thoughts and I'm not running for office.  I can be as controversial as I like.  Fixing schools doesn't take more money! 
Progressive education has produced Jay Leno's sidewalk comics.  It's time for radical redirection. 
We must not continue to listen to those who created the problem tell us how to fix it

1.  Require that anyone who wants to teach school have a degree in a subject area, a discipline, like Math, Science, English, Math, History.  Education, rather than being a college of the university unto itself, should be a graduate certification awarded only after one has proven they can earn a degree in a discipline (Math, History, English, Biology, etc.).  Those who want to be teachers should be able to produce references from respected members of the applicant's community and the teachers in the college from which he has earned a degree.  They should reflect the highest moral character as well as competence in a discipline.  Perhaps someone with a "disciplined" mind will be able to speak out like the little boy who decried the Emperor's New Clothes and actually call those failed "innovations" of Progressive Education exactly what they are...failed.  It is time to call for curriculum with substance and not pretense. 

Walter Williams writes that the Colleges of Education are the slums of the universities.  There is simply too much truth in that.  Because of increased opportunities for women in other fields, those gifted women who would have gone into education now go into law, architecture, or medicine.  As the result, many of those who barely got into college become "professors" in the colleges of education and will tell you that they were among those who did not do well in school (they didn't test well and therefore do not approve of "testing") and yet in their college courses (Education) they excelled.  That justifies them in giving good grades to everyone so as not to hurt their self esteem.  Indeed, their own brilliance didn't shine until those education courses in college. 

Walter Williams, TNI interview by Sara Penz, March 2006

George Will wrote a column earlier this year about teacher education. They’re not necessarily worrying about academic proficiency of teachers, but about how the teachers feel about social justice and white privilege and things like that. I’m thoroughly convinced that one of the best things we could do for primary and secondary education is to get rid of schools of education on college campuses, because schools of education on almost any college campus represent the intellectual slums of the campus. If you look at the students who become education majors—and the statistics are available from the National Center for Education Statistics—the high school students who intend to become education majors have the lowest SAT scores of any other major. And when these people graduate with a B.A., and some of them want to go to law school and take the LSAT, or to medical school and take them MCAT, or to graduate school and take the GRE, they score the lowest of any other major.

And so we have people in education who have very, very limited thinking ability, which makes them easy prey for all kinds of schemes that don’t make sense.

Mastering a "discipline" implies an orderliness and structure for our thought process.  Too much of today's education has emphasized creativity and self-esteem at the expense of discipline and order.  Bear Bryant recognized that some skills are so important that they must be drilled to proficiency.  Too many times a teacher will excuse their failure by saying "he/she's just not ready" or "he/she's not auditory."  (Whenever someone throws that "not auditory" excuse at me I wonder how the child ever learned to speak!)  With 49 % (or more) of 17 year old black males being functionally illiterate and 30% (or more) of all students dropping out of school, we don't have time for excuses any more.  It is time to listen to those who actually are effective with their methods, for example, Marva Collins and the many private schools that refuse to adhere to the "current wisdom" in education and continue with traditional methodology.

2.  Match aspiring teachers with "Master Teachers" for an APPRENTICESHIP in education that would take the place of useless education courses.

A Master teacher would not be one who has that "special credentialing" as a Master teacher, which focuses on affective criteria (how one feels about English, History, Math, etc.). Education courses do not create a Master Teacher.  A Master teacher would be one whose students' scores on standardized tests progressed well from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.  Acquiring the designation "Master Teacher" would not be a personality contest, nor an affective evaluation by those who have caused the problem on how well teachers have internalized their progressive teaching methods.  It would be fact and results based with objective criteria.  By example, aspiring teachers would learn effective discipline and teaching methods from an experienced mentor...and would discover whether or not they had the stuff it takes to be a good teacher.. 

3.  Return the choice of reading materials to the committee of community leaders who actually read the books and determine the suitability of those books for the children. 

Books and stories should build character by teaching courage, valor, honor, and was done in traditional education through Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, reading Herodotus' histories, Aesop's Fables, etc.  One cannot accept that because a book is a Newberry Award winning book it is a "good" book.  I think many suicides actually result from the depressing "relevant" topics in the books teachers select because of their "discussion" value.  I say open the window to the greater world and get those children out of the squalor of what might be their current "relevance."  Give them a glimpse of that which might be better and attainable with hard work, diligence, and perseverance.  (See Marva Collins reading list.) 

*Read "The Giver" by Lois Lowry, required reading in some elementary schools, and think what thoughts might fester in a child's mind as he reads his required pages over a period of time..

4.  Require that ALL teachers in a school system learn how to teach reading by using an effective reading program like the Spalding Writing Road to Reading.

The skills of basic reading must be reinforced on every level.  One finds children in every grade level having trouble reading.  The result is children who have given up by Middle School.  Some of these children have memorized their little rolodex of words doled out through elementary school and made straight As on their report cards.  Yet, by middle school, they cannot read higher level reading materials because they are unable to "sound out" or attack unfamiliar words.  They are poor spellers because they learned that certain letters make up certain words, but because they are not proficient in the phonetic analysis of words they do not realize those letters must go in a certain order in order to make that word correct.  Secondary teachers must be able to identify problems and rectify them in those who have already suffered with poor methodology.

Drill and repetition along with memorization of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division charts also need a comeback as well.  Saxon Math used to be good at that.  Good teachers always knew that.  (See Mrs. Jernigan)

5.  All teachers and administrators should be required to speak with correct grammar.

How can an English teacher require correct grammar when the principal refuses to speak well.  You are never too old to learn.  Someone who refuses to adhere to excellence should not lead a school.  Each teacher should see himself/herself as a role model for children.  It is an abomination for those who are the ultimate leader in a school to speak with poor grammar.

6.  There should be no fundraisers done by our students.  School time is too precious to spare.

They take too much time away from educating our children.  Parties that get them out of class demean the true purpose for those children being there.  Door to door sales efforts put children physically at risk.  And those children whose parents can afford to buy the most magazines humiliate those children whose own parents cannot afford to assume that challenge.  This also makes school children victim to the social aspirations and political agendas of teachers and administrators who use children as their own little minions for their pet projects..

7.  Return to Neighborhood Schools. 

Schools need to be close to the parents.  Buses are not safe places for children.  The school used to be a community gathering spot where parents knew teachers, helped with the upkeep of the yards and building, and volunteered in the school to do their part.  As the result everyone knew everyone else and each child and parent had a vested interest in the school because they were needed and involved.  Competition is good for schools because it engenders pride in your own place.

8.  Students and teachers should dress respecting the job they come to the school to do. 

Clothing reflects our attitude about the purpose of the activity we are pursuing.  Do we respect our job?  Do we respect those with whom we will come into contact?  No one should be distracted by the way another dresses.  Making a "statement" has no place in school.  Education should not be a political activity.  Education is a privilege, not a right. 

9.  Teachers should not have tenure. 

Our children are too important for people to get a job and think they can coast.  Every year matters.  Every child matters. Children cannot afford a single year of an incompetent teacher.  Indeed, society cannot afford incompetent teachers.

10.  Apply the Golden Rule: Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

This does not require an expensive conflict resolution curriculum exposing our children to psychological techniques beyond a teacher's training and contrary to a family's religious beliefs.  Children who refuse to adhere to this simple principle can go to school with others of their kind or stay home with their parents until respect is taught for the "privilege" of an education.  Others should not suffer because of the selfishness of those who only think about their own needs.

Of course there are many more elements that could be refined...but these are basic.  This will never happen.  I am a radical.  Take your child and spend the money for a private school that follows a traditional curriculum.  You will wind up paying in the end for not paying in the beginning if you do not.  Please read Dorothy Sayers The Lost Tools of Learning.

Copyright 1996  These are my own working genealogy files that I share with you.  The errors are my own.  But, perhaps they will give you a starting point.  All original writing is copyrighted.  Webmaster