Sunday, August 23, 2009
Another Clueless Non-Educator Who Thinks He Knows What's Best For The Classroom
In an editorial in the U.S. News & World Report, Editor-in-Chief Mortimer B. Zuckerman has embraced the pseudo education reform movement by blaming the problem of student academic achievement on teachers. He stated in the editorial that "better teachers are the key for student academic improvement". Mr. Zuckerman, like all educational reformers, ignores, smaller class sizes, teacher innovation, and stringent student discipline codes as major factors in improving the classroom academics. Instead Mr. Zuckerman states that technology is the key to increase teaching effectiveness. He calls it technology teaching.
While I do agree that some technology is good to aid the teacher, it is not the answer in making a good teacher. To show how ignorants Mr. Zuckerman is about the urban classroom, he assumes that the classes should have large flastscreen monitors with whiteboards on either side. Further, the technology will be set up to interact with a school server that can access all the lesson planes for every subject. This would also include video presentations, dramatizations, and an Internet interface. Nice idea except for one important fact. Who pays for it? And where is the large amount of money coming from? As for technology making a teacher a better teacher? IMaybe it can make a teacher marginally better. On the other hand, many teachers will use technology as a crutch and weaken their teaching abilities.
The characteristics for a "quality teacher" is quite simple. First, the teacher must have small class sizes, Second, the teacher must know the curriculum like the back of their hand. Third, let the teacher be the master of his or her classroom, not the administrators. Finally, the teacher must demonstrate skills in classroom management and punish misbehaving students with reasonable penalties. For a teacher to be a quality teacher, the above skills must be mastered and that takes a minimum of 3 to 5 years and in many cases longer. Is it any wonder that in New York City 50% of the new teachers quit within the first five years?
Time and again teachers are excluded in education forums and policy decisions. Both the AFT and NEA must ensure that classroom teachers are represented in all National issues that affect the classroom. Education policy should be left to educators who understand the classroom not politicians, journalists, or lawyers who are clueless when it comes to the academic needs of the students.