Saturday, November 17, 2007

Teacher-training stupidity

Don't the educational theorists know ANYTHING about reality? They certainly don't realize that sometimes more is less. They quite reasonably want to get bright people into teaching so what do they do? They make it compulsory for aspiring teachers to undergo four years of brain-dead half-life in moronic teachers' colleges. Anybody with half a brain would NOT waste 4 years of their life that way. They would do a real degree instead. When a one year diploma was all it took to become a teacher, the applicants for teacher training were of a much higher quality. Connect the dots!

Even a one-year qualification is probably overkill in the case of someone with a good first degree or higher. I went into High School teaching with NO teacher qualifications whatever: Just a fresh Master's degree. And my students got excellent results in their exams! The story below is from Australia but I believe that the situation is similar in the USA -- with intellectual standards in American teacher-training colleges also in the basement

MEDIOCRE students are going on to become teachers because poor pay and low job status is scaring the best people away from the job. Education Minister Julie Bishop yesterday admitted there was a problem in attracting the best people into teaching, as an education expert warned of dire consequences for students.

At an education conference at Melbourne University yesterday, Professor Bill Louden from the University of Western Australia said most teachers now come from the second lowest quartile in school performance results. Mr Louden said the number of high achievers going into teaching has halved over recent years. Universities must lift their intake standards for teacher training before students begin to suffer, he said.

In a debate with opposition education spokesman Stephen Smith, Ms Bishop said low tertiary entrance scores for education was deterring bright students, and said the Howard Government was committed to lifting the social standing of the profession. "Students say they are not going into teaching because of the inflexible salary arrangements and the status of the profession - they want to be in a profession where people are paid on excellence, not on years in the job,'' Ms Bishop said.

Mr Smith said a Labor Government would also focus on getting the best students into teaching. "We have to tell young Australians (teaching) is a noble profession and absolutely essential to our fundamental economic and social prosperity and one of the great challenges for our ageing teacher stock is to become attuned to the digital age.'' He said Labor had committed to a 50 per cent reduction in HECS fees upfront for those studying maths and science, with a 50 per cent remission at the back end where the student takes up a relative occupation such as maths teacher or scientist.

During the debate, Mr Smith said university fees were scaring some students away from tertiary education, while Ms Bishop attacked Labor's plan to abolish full fee places. Ms Bishop said Labor had failed to tell universities how they would be compensated by scrapping the places- worth $700 million nationally. Mr Smith said Labor would release its plans prior to the election. Mr Smith attacked the Coalition's plan for a national curriculum for just years 11 and 12.

Ms Bishop yesterday said the national curriculum for English, maths and science would be headed by hand-picked expert groups, as the Government did with Australian history earlier this year.

A Labor Government would implement a standardised curriculum from kindergarten to year 12, so all Australian students would be learning the same material, he said. A national curriculum board would take the best of currciculum from each state and re-work it into a super-study for all Australian students.


Bill to Expand Head Start Is Approved

Why is a program with no proven net benefits still sucking up taxpayer dollars after all these years? Ronald Reagan said that a government program is the nearest thing to everlasting life. I think this proves it

With two overwhelming votes, Congress approved a bill yesterday that would boost teacher qualifications in federally funded Head Start preschools, expand access to the program for children from low-income families and scrap a controversial system for testing 4-year-olds. The first reauthorization of Head Start since 1998 passed 95 to 0 in the Senate and 381 to 36 in the House and now goes to President Bush, who is expected to sign the measure. The 42-year-old program serves about 909,000 disadvantaged children, aiming to help prepare them for school academically, emotionally and socially.

The legislation sets a goal that by 2013 all Head Start teachers will have at least an associate's degree and half will have a bachelor's degree. It expands eligibility to families just above the federal poverty level, authorizes a funding increase and directs money to programs for younger children and migrant and Native American students. "For low-income children, having some type of early-childhood development is critically important to their success," House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said. "The reforms that are included in this bill I think are critically important so that Head Start can really be all that many of us want it to be. There are some tremendous Head Start programs around the country . . . but there are also some programs that don't fulfill the promise that we're making to parents and their children."

The bill eliminates a testing program for 4-year-olds that is supported by the Bush administration. Critics said the National Reporting System, a set of mini-tests intended to measure verbal and math skills, didn't provide a valid assessment of progress for students so young. The bill omitted an administration-backed proposal to allow faith-based groups to consider religion in hiring for Head Start.

The federal push to expand early-childhood education is part of a national movement to make preschool available to more children, particularly those from low-income homes. Several governors, including Timothy M. Kaine (D) of Virginia, are seeking to add government-funded preschool slots for needy children. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) noted that the legislation authorizes $7.3 billion in funding for fiscal 2008, up from $6.9 billion, and dedicates more money for teacher training. "Head Start teachers and staff are the heart and future of the program," Kennedy said in a statement. "They help children learn to identify letters and arrange the pieces of a puzzle. They teach them to brush their teeth, wash their hands, make friends and follow rules."

Kathy Patterson, federal policy director for Pre-K Now, a D.C.-based advocacy group, applauded the bill. "We're going to serve more kids, and one of the things we're particularly excited about is the emphasis on quality," she said. "The challenge will be in the appropriations process to make sure there's adequate funding."


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