How to Teach Better Teachers … U.S. schools don't have enough great teachers. There are various reasons for that, chief among them tenure protections that prevent principals from cutting loose low performers and union contracts that require the worst teachers to be paid the same as the best. But the trouble begins even before teachers arrive in the classroom: Education schools at U.S. universities don't give them the preparation they need to succeed. According to a recent study by the National Council on Teacher Quality, only 1 in 4 education schools restrict admission to the upper half of college students. A 2007 McKinsey study found that, globally, countries with the highest-performing school systems recruit teachers only from the top third of their classes. … Raising professional standards will send universities a message: Quit cranking out education-school graduates who won't make the grade. – Bloomberg editorial
Dominant Social Theme: If we can just tinker with the system properly we can affect the outcomes adequately.
Free-Market Analysis: So Bloomberg suggests that schools only hire education-school graduates from the top third of their graduating class. These "super teachers" will improve the system. That's the idea anyway.
Bloomberg claims this system works well in places like South Korea. The editorial is concerned that the Obama Department of Education is moving down the wrong track with upcoming regulations.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants to change that. Last week, he said he would draft new regulations to make federal aid to education schools contingent on the performance of their graduates. Duncan's crusade against ineffective teacher curriculums is admirable. Unfortunately, the proposed measuring standards won't begin to get to the root of what has been a national scandal for decades.
Effective teachers can make a significant difference in a child's achievement level and career trajectory. One study even found that replacing a low-performing teacher with an average teacher raises a student's lifetime career earnings by $250,000. But states are still figuring out the best ways to measure the impact that teachers have on student achievement — an idea known as "value added."
And questions abound about whether such measurements, which are based on standardized tests, can be made accurately. The American Statistical Association recently released a cautionary statement about over-reliance on value-added metrics.
And even if the metrics were foolproof, most teachers cover areas or grade levels that aren't subject to standardized tests. Duncan has indicated that value-added metrics will be part of the new regulations, which are already drawing attacks from critics who helped kill a previous Barack Obama administration effort to hold teacher-training schools accountable.
While other metrics that the department seems to be considering aren't controversial, they aren't of much use, either. For instance: Knowing the percentage of graduates who land teaching jobs is helpful information for potential applicants, but it doesn't say much about a program's quality. Also of limited value is the length of time that graduates remain in the teaching profession.
Length of service and mediocrity can go hand in hand in a system where it's hard to fire anyone and where seniority, rather than merit, is rewarded. The best step may be the simplest: Reward education schools that enroll high percentages of high-performing students.
This is a prototypical Bloomberg article. It doesn't examine any of the REAL causation but comes up with a "solution" that is marginally better than other fixes now being proposed.
The problems with Western public schools are twofold, though mainstream media will never mention either point.
The first problem is that children are educated in grades. This was a German invention designed to enable bonding, especially of young men, so that they would be better soldiers when they went off to war.
Ironically, this idea proved disastrous. England, especially, sent young men to the front during World War I who had grown up together. But carnage was so great that whole villages were virtually denuded of young men. The practice was abandoned, but "grade schools" remained.
The second problem is worse than the first. The first creates an often hurtful and artificial social structure. But the second problem is that Western public schools are not meant to educate but to socialize.
The Eagle Forum (an online "newspaper of education rights") comments on the patron saint of modern education – John Dewey – thus:
Dewey was a prominent signer of the Humanist Manifesto in 1933, which was a secularist call to arms that emphatically rejected religious faith. He had an unrelenting passion for discrediting and demolishing all that is traditional. He wanted the concept of the public to replace that of the individual. He argued for greater government involvement in society at large.
Dewey espoused the notion that the real goal of education and the primary task of the teacher is to socialize students, not educate them to reach their individual potential. Dewey wasn't really interested in the good of individual students, but rather in promoting a political and social agenda. Dewey put down the importance of reading books, arguing that education must be predominantly a social experience.
In Germany, students were organized into grades in order to make them better soldiers. In the US during the 1930s and 1940s, Dewey took this concept a step further by proclaiming that the purpose of education was not to create informed students but better workers.
One could argue in the 21st century that neither goal has been achieved – though the destruction of Western education is almost complete.
In the West these days there are at least two separate and unequal education systems. The public school system is for the most part unfixable because it is not intended to educate. A smaller private school system exists and funnels students into top universities where they can be expected to go to work leading large corporations or government complexes.
But even those with impressive careers at powerful institutions will often not be able to overcome the damage caused by their initial education. Once upon a time, education taught skeptical thinking; today, no matter the class or wealth of the individual student, he or she is exposed to a series of elite dominant social themes.
Students learn WHAT to believe in at school – no matter the caliber or wealth of the institution. This conditions them to function within an increasingly globalist society that is organized around concepts that must not be challenged: global warming, wars against terror, over-population, resource scarcity, etc.
No doubt those who put this system into play anticipated that by the early 20th century the task of brainwashing entire Western populations would be almost complete. But the Internet has interfered with that effort and as a result, some people – especially in the West – have begun to shed their conditioning and to overturn, voluntarily, certain assumptions with which they were brought up.
These individuals often attempt to analyze elite dominant social themes in order to prepare themselves for their impact or even to anticipate it. That's what we do here at High Alert: We analyze elite memes from a variety of angles (including, of course, investing). In this day and age, one must be aware of elite dominant social themes because they are ubiquitous and often very powerful.
Bloomberg discusses none of this. The solution presented by the editorial is simply to hire the most intellectually facile educators in order to improve the system. In fact, this "expert" solution may only deepen the ignorance.
And perhaps that's just the point.