Sunday, October 01, 2006

Pete Speer's response to the dumbing down of our education system.

The state teachers unions and the the NEA have joined hands to nullify NCLB.
Local boards have been influenced by the local unions and their half
brothers, the similarly educated administrators, to reject NCLB money.

That legislation, as cumbersome as it may be, was passed to overcome the
under-education rendered by underqualified teachers in primary and secondary
schools. The 2004 report of the President's Advisory Commission on Science
and Technology indicated that when compared to the public education in
Europe, the entire Asian littoral plus Japan and India, the level of
knowledge and the curriculum requirements were generally below the 50th

Those well publicized 'Advanced Placement' courses in Math and Science?
They ranked at the sixth and the zero percentile respectively.

How did my state of Illinois react? The Illinois State Board of Education
is supposed to set standards for the field. Within the last year, they
dumbed down their standardized tests -- creating the appearance of higher
grades -- and normed up the results -- making the parents believe that
Johnny was learning. The last smooth move was to reduce the passing grade
on the certification test for History and the Social Sciences.

The schools rely on degree granting Schools of Education and provide their
certified staff for pay raises based on longevity and on additional
Education School course work.

There is no concept of Subject Matter Mastery. The buzz phrase is Content
Mastery -- just be able to teach what is in the textbook. Subject Matter
Mastery implies that the teacher has an undergraduate degree in the subject
being taught. Additional studies in that subject at the graduate level keep
the teacher up to date in his/her field. Implied is a love of the subject
that can be transitted to the student.

Education degreed teachers usually can not qualify for such graduate
courses. And if they do, they become lost.

65% in the classroom is a very nice folly. Illinois teachers took advantage
of early retirement and extraordinary raises in the last three years to
enable them to buy out and qualify for the highest state pensions. 65%
would have been corrupted.

65% will further enrich a system which recognizes itself as a closed union
shop, not unlike the UAW in the days before the Japanese importers started
building quality in their product.

How so we return Quality and Education Value?

The only answer -- and it is being done in San Francisco and other places --
is Competitive Choice.

After accounting for special needs children, each district must vest every
student equally in the federal, state and local tax moneys. The parent(s)
will then choose where to use that money: public, provate, parochial and
shiva (religious classes taught after hours), charter and even home
schooling. All that is required is certification by a (now reformed) state

Choice of a school costing less than the fair share will result in moneys
being kept in the District. Choice of a more expensive option will require
the parent(s) fund the difference.

Families still have dreams of interclass mobility for their children.
American must still have to compete in the 21st Century world economy/

Let us not drag ourselves down.

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