More on education

In my previous post I suggested that those who attack tenure under the pretext of helping low-income students are disingenuous at best, since they consistently deny adequate funding for all things public, including schools. I also opined that, in the end, the eliminationist tendency of the current political economy consigns an ever-increasing percentage of us to the surplus labor camp. I should add a few postscripts.

Although some who know me would judge yours truly a bit smarter than the average bear, truth be told, I was a lousy student in high school and then in college. But for my baseball scholarship, I would never have been accepted to Berkeley.

Irony attaches to my journey, since I had always said that I would become a teacher. But when the time came to begin my training as a teacher, I was denied entrance to Berkeley’s teacher education program. I was not a proper candidate for the profession. I later proved this out, when I tried teaching adolescents at a private school.

Teaching, ladies and gentlemen, is damn hard, and certainly the most difficult of all my different jobs. For those who toil in our nation’s classrooms I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration.

My wife, who retired after 26 years in the classroom, reminds me that teaching is as much an art as it is a science. Presently, the number-crunchers hold sway, imposing their data-based regimen on teachers and students alike. This is total madness, of course, and will do nothing to improve academic performance. Worse, it has squelched children’s natural curiosity and sucked all joy out of learning.

If any profession needs the protection of unions these days, it is education. Bill Gates and his reformist-ilk believe that a testing regimen reveals all, including the value of teachers. If a teacher’s students do poorly in the standardized tests, throw them out. But such tests cannot possibly gain the full measure of a student. Their results merely reflect socioeconomics, or, as education critic Alfie Kohn puts it, the square footage of a school’s surrounding homes.

Gates et al. would do nothing to mitigate poverty, the biggest impediment to learning and future wellbeing. In their Alice-in-Wonderland mindset, they argue that only education can make an impoverished student wealthy, but never that reducing poverty will boost academic achievement.

So the reformers, as if slaying the educational Jabberwock:

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

Among the victims thus far: teacher unions, tenure, due process, seniority, dignity, respect, joy, and art. The tragedy is that we stand on the sidelines cheering our own societal demise.

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