Oh, my…. Doghouse Riley with the takedown of some random idiocy from the NY Times and Nick Kristof….
Yes, it’s time for another round of America’s Favorite Parlor Amusement, “If We Captured a Terrorist and Had Only Thirty Minutes To Find Out Where He’d Hidden a Nuclear Device, and the Only Way To Get That Information Was To Let Him Sodomize Nick Kristof on Coast-to-Coast Television, Would You…”
Otherwise known as “Gee, I Could Get To Work So Much Faster if I Didn’t Have To Stop for All These Red Lights.”
Suppose Colin Powell tires of giving $100,000-a-pop speeches and wants to teach high school social studies. Suppose Meryl Streep has a hankering to teach drama. Alas, they would be “unqualified” for a public school. Elite private schools would snap them up, of course, but public schools that are begging for teachers would have to turn them away because they don’t have teacher certification. That’s an absurd snarl in our education bureaucracy. Let’s relax the barriers so people can enter teaching more easily, either right out of college or later as a midcareer switch. Sure, there are lots of other problems in the U.S. education system. But this is one of the easiest to solve.
And one of the most difficult to solve is the Armchair Quarterback problem. Everybody who went to high school in this country seems to think he could run them. All of them.
I don’t know about New York, but in Indiana, which has one of the stricter codes in the country (teachers are not supposed to teach outside their areas of accreditation, for example), Colin and Meryl (she’s married to a Westside boy, btw, Steve Gummer) would be welcome to apply for teaching jobs. They could get provisional licenses for a year, after which they’d have to work on gaining full accreditation, and they’d have to comply with the new NCLB-era requirements.
So like many another “snarl in our bureaucracy” so beloved of sidewalk educational reformers, this one is caused, at least in part, by sidewalk educational reformers.
I think it’s worth mentioning, as someone who went through the whole microwave teacher program, that several things jump out at me at once-
1. While everyone claims that we’re critically short of teachers, I sure did see a lot of people with freshly minted teaching certificates in hand standing around at the Dept. of Ed waiting for a job assignment. The problem is that a bunch of the places where there are teaching jobs available happen to be in places where there are terrible schools. The schools themselves are failing institutions, because the counties are SO POOR. Places like Metro Atlanta have a few openings, sure, but the schools that are critically understaffed are places like Talbot County–
The median income for a household in the county was $26,611, and the median income for a family was $35,208. Males had a median income of $29,186 versus $19,438 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,539. 24.20% of the population and 19.90% of families were below the poverty line. 39.10% of those under the age of 18 and 19.70% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
The starting pay for a teacher there was something under $25,000, and the closest city of any size was Columbus, GA, which was, as I recall, just under an hour away.
So. I don’t see Colin fucking Powell beating down the door to get a job there any time soon. Or, for that matter, ANYBODY ELSE with more than one option in the bag. The problem with these kids today! They want to make a living wage and live in a place that has a movie theater and a restaurant or two! Decadent hedonists!
2. Those private schools Kristof mentions with such affection? They don’t pay shit, either. Sure, if you’re some high profile celebrity or scholar with some credentials, a private school will pay you a living wage to teach, but outside of a few (and I mean a VERY few) high profile schools in urban areas, private schools don’t pay much better. Starting wages at private schools in Georgia are significantly less than the already meager starting wages at public schools. That’s because most of the private schools are run by the Crackers Creek Baptist Church, y’know, so your kids don’t get their heads filled with any of that (D)Evolution Science-y BOOK LEARNING…. Academies of Truthiness have sprung up all over the Southeast, and I would guess, the country, in order to funnel kids away from the public schools in the interest of avoiding topics that might disturb their parents’ worldview. Wonder what the whole School Voucher controversy is about? And the whole reason for No Child Left Behind? It works like this:
Step One– the Federal Gubmint, led by the Bush Administration, implements a set of byzantine requirements for public schools to meet. The criteria for meeting these requirements is evaluated on a pass/fail basis.
Step Two– Cut Funding.
Step Three– After a suitable interval, have state-level Republican politicos (governor, State Rep, whomever) announce that X-percentage of schools in Y-county are failing. Hem, haw, gnash teeth. Establish panel to “look into possible solutions.”
Step Four– “Discover” local private school which is doing a heckuva job of educating the community’s children. (Note: This private school should be exempt from NCLB requirements, so that heck quotient of job performance is unquantifiable.)
Step Five– Begin furiously thumping tubs to redirect public money away from “failing” public school (by new, arbitrary standards) to Christian or otherwise exclusive private school.
This is how the Country Club set would like to make sure that the Wingnut Welfare system pays for their kids to go to private school.