Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

09 July 2013

Bad Teachers are the Main Cause of Bad American Educations

The most important factor in student education is the quality of the teacher.  Unfortunately, the average teacher in America is neither bright nor well-educated.  This has long been my evaluation and that viewpoint is much confirmed in a report by Joy Pullman, Education Research Fellow at The Heartland Institute.

Her report notes:
  • Students planning to major in education have below average SAT scores.  Students with below average SAT scores are also below proficient on state grade by grade tests.
  • The education major curriculum is about the easiest of all college curricula.  Teaching majors need more college remedial work than humanities and social science majors.  Yet, teaching majors are rewarded with the highest college grades.
  • Teachers with content-specific majors or who have had an earlier career are better teachers than those who majored in education and took courses emphasizing progressive teaching methods and ideology.
  • Teachers with teaching certificates are not any better than those without the certificates.
  • Despite low achievement, teachers commonly get early retirement and pay and benefits that are 50% higher than what others of similar ability get in the marketplace.
Of course, there is the occasional really phenomenal teacher, such as my daughter Kate who teaches biology courses in a charter school in a very poor neighborhood in New York City.  She had a dual major at Rochester Institute of Technology in both Biotechnology and Biomedical Sciences.  She had one-third more credit hours than needed to graduate as well with an amazing 4.00 GPA.   Her students consistently have about a 90% pass rate on the New York Regency Tests for Biology and she has just completed teaching the first Biology AP course offered in the school.  Kate was one of the best teachers of her school prior to getting her required teachers certificate, which she found very onerous because the education courses she had to take at Fordham University while in her first two years of teaching were incredibly boring and useless.

Kate says she has some 10th grade students who have third grade reading skills and who cannot write a coherent sentence, let alone a coherent paragraph.  Many more good, or even just decent, teachers are desperately needed.  It is difficult to conceive how bad a teacher is who allows students to go on to the next grade when they have never learned to read or write.  American schools are full to the brim with such teachers, while teachers such as Kate are exceedingly rare.

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