I just read a NY Times Op-Ed by Nicolas Kristof and I feel dirty.
Okay, so I don’t usually read the NYT and all I need to know is that my local newspaper reprints many of its op-eds. The local newspaper is incredibly slanted to the left (although many would argue it’s just left of center…ha!). So the logic follows, if a Left-wing newspaper consistently reprints op-eds from another newspaper, it must also be a Left-wing newspaper. Anyway, I don’t really see the need to spend my time reading the NYT when I could spend it reading much more thoughtful and insightful people like Thomas Sowell.
Anyway, here is a quote from Kristof from the aforementioned op-ed:
So for those who oppose education spending in the stimulus, a question: Do you really believe that slashing half a million teaching jobs would be fine for the economy, for our children and for our future?
Here is my response:
Yes. If in order to make teaching more effective and learning more likely, then it may be necessary for the “system” to correct for ineffectivenes. Throwing $100 billion at saving jobs that are being performed poorly is not going to solve anything except short term job statistics.
In fact, it will likely make the long term problems facing our education “system” worse. Protecting the jobs of teachers who are performing inefficiently, or poorly, is only going to keep them educating kids poorly for another generation (or two). The Barbitulus (as I have taken to calling the stimulus bill) package will only, if we’re lucky, put a band aid on any real economic problems while putting off an even bigger catastrophe for a future generation to cope with (hopefully to be blamed on the next Republican administration…SARCASM ALERT).
Kristof notes that the 1970’s marked the last time that our education system was ahead of other nation’s education systems. Strangely, that coincides with the revving up of a more hands-on approach from the government in the matters of education and other social concerns (LBJ’s Great Society).
Strangely, I think Kristof unwittingly proves my point later in the op-ed by lamenting about bad teachers. According to his research, kids who have consecutive years of top quality teachers are more likely to be successful learners. He even indicates that the quality of teacher is more important that class size (!!!). This is a major no-no if you want the endorsement of the NEA (National Educator’s Association).
If he actually believes the research that’s being done regarding the quality of teaching is accurate, then is he seriously suggesting that protecting the purported half a million jobs that will be lost without this Barbitulus bill is the right way to correct the problem? Protecting jobs is different than providing incentives and a better question would be to ask what kind of incentives are being provided to encourage poor teachers to become better ones. I doubt that any government money will be used to reward teachers for being good teachers, but will likely protect the teacher who may not know the head of the class from the dunce chair.
Additionaly, he argues that current methods of “vetting” teachers have failed to predict which ones will be good and which ones will be poor. Nevermind that the current method of vetting teachers – certification, praxis exams, college degrees, teacher training schools, etc. – are all products of increasing government intervention (read: lots of federal mandates and subsequent dollars) in the education system. That Kristof argues more government spending is needed to fix these problems, seemingly without detecting the irony of his argument, defies logic (but then again, maybe he was a product of a post ’70s public school education).
How can any serious, thoughtful person who is passionate about education reform begin their arguments with the idea that spending more government money is the way to acheive quality reform? Of course, I would submit to you that anyone who thinks that government is the way to solve problems is not really serious, nor terribly thoughtful in the sense that they use their brains for critical thinking.