"Who invents this crap?"

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PonderInc considers the choices in tomorrow's Tulsa Public Schools board election:

The Tulsa World endorsed Guess, citing her extensive educational experience and training.

On one hand, I want to believe that an education background is a good thing; but on the other hand, I think that many of the problems with our school system (inept teachers, principals, and administrators) are caused by people with education degrees.

My skepticism increased after taking education classes 10 years ago when I was considering teaching. I thought: this is the dumbest stuff I've ever heard, who invents this crap? It led me to believe that the school system would be much improved if everyone had a degree in the subject they teach...instead of a goofy education degree.

So...can an "insider" reform from the inside? Or is it better to support an "outsider" who might just bring some common sense to the table?

At the same time, I disagree with the pragmatists who think all schools should do is prepare students for the business world. Education is different from training. And those who would limit art, music, and theater programs for the sake of more "hard skills" don't realize the importance of creativity, experimentation and imagination.

I don't really know where each of these candidates stands on these topics. And I'm not sure who to vote for tomorrow. Looks like I've got homework to do!

That point about schools of education is the crucial issue in school reform, but it's overlooked amidst discussions of funding, testing, discipline, etc. One of the advantages that charter and private schools have over public schools is that it's easier for a charter or private school to hire a teacher who has a degree in the subject area he or she will be teaching. Public schools can hire teachers outside the usual ed-school track, but there are many more hoops to jump through with alternative certification, and many school officials can't be bothered, especially if there is no shortage of ed-school graduates, who won't require the extra effort to get them into the classroom.

Courses in an education degree program tend to be all about process, rather than content. If you love math or English lit or history and dream of imparting your love of the subject to young skulls full of mush, the process of gaining certification -- whether by traditional or alternative methods -- may very well drain you of your enthusiasm.

A friend of mine with an MBA and many years in the corporate world had the urge about a decade ago to go into teaching. He had gained some classroom time as a Junior Achievement sponsor and enjoyed the experience immensely. He thought he might teach math or business at the junior high or high school level, so he began working for his alternative certification. Texas, where he lived, had pioneered the process, but he wasn't able to get the time of day from two of the major school districts in the DFW Metroplex. (Thinking back on it, he might have had more cooperation from a smaller district.) He gave up on the idea.

It may be that schools of education, with their focus on process and theory and their ideological attacks on practices that work (e.g. phonics, math fact drills, and high expectations), are the heart of what's wrong with public schools in America. They deter many with the gift of teaching from getting into the profession, and they provide a bad foundation for those who do pursue teaching.

Sadly, people don't become aware of the problem until they encounter it directly as my friend and PonderInc did. PonderInc gets it now. I wish she were running for school board.

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wake up Oklahoma state senate on education laws said:

Our state senate and state legislature have voted over many years to continue funding at a huge expense to Oklahoma taxpayers to have Oklahoma School of Science and Math a "public" high school. State Regents over the public high schools in the state of Oklahoma have nothing to do with OSSM.
OSSM allows "hand picked" students. No other public 11th and 12th grade high school in the state of Oklahoma gets to hand pick their students. It's wrong and it's very expensive to taxpayers. Why do they continue to keep voting for it. They have never understood OSSM administration boosting of how smart they are but Oklahoma School of Science and Math fails in "math" by not revealing how they need to be
honest in telling our State Senate and our State Legislature that for years now Oklahoma has a better much more economical system for those they go to OSSM for advance science and math courses.
What is offered and strongly suggested to Oklahoma public high school students that have high ACT ability and good grades and meet the standards of college and/or university admission while they are 11th and/or 12th grade in the entire state of Oklahoma they can graduate early and go on to college or the university of their choice. They also can stay in high school and be a concurrent student and take the college course in science and math at the college or university of their choice.
It is very expensive to fund Oklahoma School of Science and math and they should this year in 2008 vote to make in "private" so that those wishing to send their children to a boarding school will need to pay for the $60,000.00 price tag that OKlahoma taxpayers have been having to pay for each student that goes through Oklahoma School of Science and math residential high school. We should not be providing room and board when for all these years they should like all other Oklahoma 11th and 12th grade students can get their tuition paid for free if they pass the college math or science class.
At Oklahoma School of Science and Math not all even make A's or B's --some make C's or some don't make the cut at all and drop out. Again, they don't have to pay the tuition bill. If they were a concurrent student, see what happens if you don't pass.
Our education system is messed up. Write to your Oklahoma State Senator and Oklahoma State Leg.Representative and tell them to vote to make OSSM "private" and stop wasting our educational dollars that has cost Oklahoma taxpayers millions with OSSM as a public residential high school.
They constantly ask for more money and think throwing money at the educational system will make it work.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 4, 2008 6:00 PM.

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