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To: Stand Watch Listen
In my many quixotic campaigns for School Board, I tried to convince the voters of the value of an objective, fact-based education by using the following metaphor:

"Imagine your little Johnny and Mary are automobiles." Now we all know that some cars are better than others. But we also know that no one's car is going anywhere without fuel. Now think of factual subject matter knowledge as the fuel. No facts in your head=no gas in your tank. (I know what you're thinking. "Jeesh, no wonder the guy lost, today's voters cannot handle the concept!")

A car should also be shiny, have a decent heater and air conditioner, good tires, be properly tuned, and be safe. That is what public schools do when they "socialize" Johnny and Mary. That is, insofar as is possible, they want to make all the cars roughly the same, which is the educator's idea of "democracy," and "outcome-based education."

Modern educators seem to think that the socialization aspects of schooling are more important than the factual part. Look in any big city, and the ratio now looks to be 95% socialization, 5% facts. The idea started with John Dewey, but his ignorant disciples in Public Education, many of whom have never heard of him, have taken it to the extreme.In the American public schools that have worked over the ages, that ratio probably was closer to the classic 80/20; 80% subject-matter, 20% socialization.

In the best schools, both Public and Private, socialization is somehow accomplished BY MASTERY OF THE SUBJECT MATTER. (Kids from the better schools have more "self-esteem," perhaps because they actually KNOW something. But that is an ideal, and usually not possible in the public marketplace.

Today's public school teacher corps just might be the most ignorant in the history of American education. Instead of Subject Matter Knowledge, these people have meaningless degrees in "Education." Many are excellent teachers, that is they get the worthless material in dumbed-down textbooks into the students heads. Don't believe me about the books? Read one. It will only take a minute or two.

They are further rewarded by meaningless Masters and Doctorates in "Education," so they can qualify for higher salaries to supervise other Education majors, who also lack Subject Matter Knowledge. Their stated ideal is a "CONTENT-FREE MODEL.'

Answer: get History Majors to teach History. Get people who know Math to to teach Math. The "Education" part of their teacher's education can be accomplished in 6 months of internship. Sure, educational theory and "philosophy" are important, but not at the expense of Subject Matter. We have tested the theories in vogue now long enough to know they are useless. If educators were scientific, they would have gone on to find out why and corrected them.

Recently, my sister, who has a real Doctorate in History from a real university and somehow rose to the lofty perch of Department Chair of 'Social Studies' for her school district,(Working Class Blue-Collar Town of 200,000...nothing fancy). She had to hire 2 new 'Social Studies' teachers; one for the Junior High level, the other for the local HS. Since the district pays astronomical salaries, she was inundated with literally hundreds of resumes from experienced teachers, many with advanced degrees, including Doctorates.

I (naively, as it turns out) suggested that she use old New York State Board of Regents' Exams from the 30's and 40's as a qualifier for the better applicants. She invited them to sit for the exams, which were used exactly as they were created, as a MINIMUM standard for New York State High School Students of that era, with 65% as the passing grade. In those days, if you failed The Regents' exams, you might not get a diploma. Serious business. This was what you had to know to be a knowledgeable voter!

9 (that was NINE) of 100 people passed. (To my practiced, but jaundiced eye; the only likely Republicans in the group, too!) The highest grades: 100%, scored by a 60-year-old teacher. next highest 84%, with seven more between 65 and 80. Average score 55%. If you were forced to read the answers to the "essay" questions, as I was, you would have wept at the grammar and the spelling. (Certainly well below FR Standards) And these were experienced Public School Teachers! Masters Degrees, Doctorates ...phooey!

O, BTW, Sis had to retire, and the school district is STILL in court 4 years later, being sued for "discriminatory hiring practices." One point brought up over and over: "Not Marked on the Curve." Remember, this exam was the MINIMUM State Standard in its day. "Culturally Biased" was another. (OOPS, Guilty as charged there, your honor.)

Oh yeah, one minor note on Public School Budgets: my sister's final salary was $74,000/yr. She was "Supervised" in her last year of classroom teaching by a four-person team whose aggregate salary was well over $500,000, plus perks. The local Board of Education has 25 positions which pay over $65,000, the duties of most of which mystify me, e.g. "Curriculum Co-Ordinators?"

This horror story is not unusual. All over the Northeast, our tax money is supporting a boondoggling 'education' bureaucracy which is totally unaccountable for results. Which is good. Because they certainly don't get many. What they give you for the money are Politically Correct "outcomes."

6 posted on 12/05/2001 11:01:00 AM PST by Francohio
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To: Francohio
Thanks for your input...appreciate it.

Rather sad commentary on those that we entrust our children to. Too many parents allow the schools too much influence on their children's moral foundations.

For too many parents, it is easier to abrogate their parental responsibilities rather than give the time their children need.

7 posted on 12/05/2001 11:25:39 AM PST by Stand Watch Listen
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