Search This Blog

Nov 4, 2011

A modest proposal

            -By Johnathan Swift (as recorded by me)
It is a pity that the outstanding certification policy just adopted by the RI Board of Regents does not fully develop all of its brilliant ideas. I shall take one such idea and apply it consistently, with rigor and enthusiasm. The idea is to abolish requiring advanced degrees of advanced teachers, because there is indeed little evidence that said degrees improve test scores of students. It is commonly known that absence of conclusive evidence to support a claim is irrefutable evidence against the claim. For example, if you eat salad, but are still overweight, salad surely makes you fat! If you groom yourself and still cannot get a date, stop grooming and you shall attract members of the desired sex! Thank God for scientific reasoning! How shall we extend this brilliant idea further?
1.                   The proposal still requires all administrators, support professionals, and specialists to obtain an “advanced degree.” The dreadful phrase appears 18 times in the document! Surely, if it is not good for teachers, it must not be good for anyone else. There is no scientific proof that a principal or a school psychologist with an advanced degree raises children’s test scores. These degrees are issued by the same disreputable colleges caught peddling useless master’s degrees to teachers. If you have the courage to stop the fraud, stop all of it! District-directed, job-embedded professional development will naturally turn an individual into a superb principal, or an excellent superintendent! One will soak up the wisdom of being a Reading or an ESL specialist from having thoughtful conversations with colleagues, and reading powerful books. If this works for teachers, it should work for all!
2.                   No evidence exists that a bachelor’s degree causes a teacher more likely to raise student test scores. I implore the Board to exercise simple logic: A bachelor’s degree is just another pointless academic credential, a collection of seat time sold by the same despicable institutions of so-called “higher learning.” Isn’t it better to measure the effectiveness of teachers directly without regard to their credentials whatsoever? Therefore, bachelor’s degrees are unnecessary. We have the mighty educator evaluation system you all saw working so well for so long! Why certify, if we can evaluate?
3.                   And while we at it, why not abolish the very concept of the approved teacher preparation program! After all, anyone can just teach oneself to be a great teacher by engaging with great books, thoughtful conversations, and worthy examples. Even a shoe store should be allowed to train teachers, as long as they raise the test scores. If we happen to hire a teacher who cannot read, for example, well, his students will not show any growth. Within a few years, we will know that we made a mistake, chastise the shoe store, and fire the teacher. Our children are the least expensive and most convenient instruments for measuring teacher quality!
4.                   Don’t dictate what a teacher can do! You are already prepared to send elementary and high school teachers to middle schools. Let worthy individuals teach music one week, and calculus the next, preschool one year, and an AP class the next. We all know that principals possess the uncanny intuitive ability of judging every teacher’s talents just by looking at them. Principals famously have the ultimate power to hire whomever they want. You have embarked on the glorious path to deregulation that did wonders for this nation’s economy recently. Deregulate until it hurts!
5.                   Attention, the biggest fraud of all times will be exposed now. Did you know that economic research so far failed to demonstrate a convincing link between the high school diploma and worker productivity? It is not clear if schooling is simply a screening mechanism to select talent, or it actually raises productivity. Over 1000 scholarly papershave been published on the subject only in the last ten years. Still no proof! And we already established, no proof is the proof of the opposite! High school diploma is not proven to be good; therefore it is bad and must be abolished. Improve the quality of all education by not requiring it!
6.                   And finally, not even a shred of research evidence supports the claim that having a board regulating education policy has any effect on the test scores. If you abolish advanced degrees, bachelor’s degrees and high school diplomas, there will be nothing to regulate anyway! Take your brilliant idea seriously. Abolish yourselves tonight, for there is no proof you are useful!

I should like to take this opportunity to announce that the Jonathan Swift award goes to Rhode Island, the first government in the world that will improve teacher quality by lowering its expectations for teacher learning.

Brilliant, simply brilliant!

1 comment: