is it me, or is this guy making a lot of sense? someone recently suggested we adopt a Doc-for-America plan to help with the need for more general practicioners....seems to be the same idea as a lot of this so-called "reform" Thoughts, gentle readers?
I can't remember the last time a politician told Indiana's medical school or law schools they had too much say in how doctors and lawyers were educated. Or that we needed to make it easier for laypersons to become doctors, lawyers, even chiefs of surgery and judges.
The idea is that unsatisfactory student achievement is the fault of a closed teaching society that is loath to change with the times and dedicated to the welfare of salaried adults rather than the needs of children.
Refutation of these presumptions is ample. Innovation and self-criticism are staples of teacher education and are reflected in state accountability law that predates Bennett. Dedicated teachers, even those protected by unions from arbitrary firing, are not the exception. If one accepts these truths, then one faces a political problem in seeking to paint schools as the culprit in children's failure, and punitive school "reform" as the simple solution. If education colleges know what they're doing, and teachers are earning their pay, then low scores and high dropout rates indicate societal dysfunction too deep-seated to repair in the place where children spend seven hours a day for half the year.
While they pay token homage to the challenges society lays at the schoolhouse door, "reformist" politicians and their media choir keep returning to the "failed schools" mantra and the scared straight strategy. Read their lips and their articles closely, and you'll find precious little in terms of substantial suggestions, even less recognition of changes already made and virtually no concession that education costs don't stand still.
The reason medical and law schools do not endure this kibitzing is that teachers in America are not regarded as professionals. Bennett's proposals to fast-track lay people with "content knowledge" into teaching, and to dilute formal requirements for administrators, may make perfect sense to him as applied science -- schooling for the real world. Nor is the "establishment" entirely hostile, in concept.
Try to imagine, though, such a sweeping and unilateral "improvement plan" being presented to another professional community by a representative of the general public. He'd be coolly thanked for his interest by practitioners and their mentors who, unlike teachers, are not doing work every guy with half an education thinks he can do.
A teacher friend reminded me, during a recent discussion of the reform brouhaha, that there are some lazy and lousy teachers out there. Yes, I replied, and some bad doctors and lawyers too. I don't feel qualified to fix any of them; and if I could, I wouldn't guarantee us a smart, healthy, law-abiding Indiana in the bargain.
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