January 13, 2013

Word: On teachers

 Letter to the Seattle Times:

The publicity given to the latest Gates Foundation report on teacher
evaluation adds strength to the common view that there is something very wrong with American teachers. There is, for example, no pressing concern about how we should evaluate nurses, carpenters, doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers, plumbers, butchers, newspaper reporters, etc.

Every profession has some inferior practitioners, but the available evidence says that American teachers as a group are excellent. When we control for the effects of poverty, our international test scores are very good, ranking at or near the top of world.

There are two major factors preventing teachers from being even more effective:

(1) The high level of child poverty in the U.S., 23.1 percent, second among high-income countries; children who are hungry, have poor health care and little access to books will not do well in school regardless of teacher quality.

(2) The unreasonable demands of the Common Core: a tight, inflexible curriculum that crushes creativity, designed by elitists with little idea of what goes on in classrooms, and a massive amount of testing, more than we have ever seen on this planet.

— Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, USC


Ed Ciaccio said...

In corporate America's unending quest to privatize everything for their own greed, teachers are under assault so that private, for-profit schools can replace public schools. Professor Krashen's point about poverty and inequality in the U.S. is absolutely true, but, given politicians supported by corporate contributions and the weakening of our social safety net, the difficult, long-term task of reversing inequality and retsoring the safety net will not be done, especially as the U.S. continues to squander resources on endless, unwinnable wars and the largest military budget on earth. It is easier to blame teachers than to correct all the foolish policy decisions made by both major parties over the last 50 years.

Capt. America said...

Prof. Krashen is right that the teachers are good. He's wrong that there is no basic structural ethical problem with the teachers or schools grading their own students.

There are always some good schools. There do not have to be any bad schools. Even with no child poverty and no high-stakes testing there will still be too many bad schools as long as the basic structural ethical problem remains.