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 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
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
2. Match aspiring teachers with "Master Teachers" for an
APPRENTICESHIP in education that would take the place of useless education
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 perseverance...as 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
*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
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
5. All teachers and administrators should be required to speak with
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
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
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.