An Open Letter To Those Running Education In New York State

An open letter to New York’s THE FOUR: governor, legislature, Board of Regents and commissioner of education:

“Mary,” a Jamestown kindergarten child, receives tutoring in reading and traditional math –not the ridiculous Common Core — so that she can have some hope of mastering these basic skills. Her guardian grandparents are fearful; Jamestown has high failure rates on state tests (3-year failure rate averages: ELA 80 percent; math 78 percent). Her school worksheets contain many circled errors but no corrections required. Why? Isn’t this a basic teacher task so errors don’t solidify? Stunningly, the teacher replied, “I don’t have time.” She added that if she was not on a certain page and line in the teacher’s manual when her supervisor appeared, she was reprimanded. Sounds like blue-collar work.

For a century plus, individuals and commissions reported that student teachers were very low caliber. Programs are progressivist, child-centered, anti-curriculum and anti-intellectual. Dr. James Koerner published “The Miseducation of American Teachers” (1963), saying teacher training programs had “an appalling lack of evidence” and didn’t prepare students for on-the-job performance. Education is “one of the intellectually weakest” fields in higher education. “Slackers wanting to earn the country’s easiest college major, should major in education,” suggested CBS news.

The famous Coleman Report (1966) found teacher scores on verbal skills tests the most predictive of student achievement. But prospective teachers score more than 100 points below the average SAT score. Master’s degrees in Education, said Coleman, do nothing to raise achievement levels in students. Neither does state certification, especially since it is so dumbed down in New York (e.g, literacy test dropped; low cut score on test). Top-performing nations select future teachers from the top 10 percent of college graduates. The U.S. selects future teachers from the bottom 30 percent of high school graduates. Coleman further stated that most variation in achievement occurs within schools, not between schools. A clear message to legislators pushing charter schools and vouchers.

In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education released “A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform” which contained this chilling statement: “If an unfriendly power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.” We continue to allow!

Dr. John Hattie, preeminent researcher on achievement in the world, wrote that “the education of new teachers seems so data-free.” They “ignore evidence” and hope they are “making a difference (somewhere, somehow, with someone!).” The outcome? New York teachers, administrators, and THE FOUR ignore educational research relating to raising student achievement. They resort to fads — Common Core and wishful thinking fads like charters and vouchers. Only 17 percent of charter schools are found to be better than public schools, 37 percent are worse and 46 percent the same.

Dr. Hattie calls teaching a “cottage industry” as it does not have profession status. Members look to unions for leadership for their own benefits, not for students. A profession (e.g., medicine, theology, law, engineers) has specialized, theoretical knowledge, autonomy, a professional organization, all directed toward client betterment. Teacher unions engage in financially supporting Democrat political candidates who bend to union demands and maintain the status quo, even to obstructing the closing of failing schools. Just ask Speaker Heastie! New York State United Teachers paid out $5.8 million in 2016 for independent expenditures and campaign contributions. The result? THE FOUR become self-serving (e.g., making grades 3-8 tests non-standardized) rather than carrying out their constitutional responsibilities. We see disastrous results: state 3-year average failure rate: ELA 69 percent; math 65 percent.

Marten Roorda, CEO of the ACT examination, said in 2017: “Underserved students lag far behind their peers when it comes to college and career readiness, and the more underserved characteristics that students possess, the less likely they are to be ready,” He added, “This gap presents a major risk to our nation’s goals for post-secondary completion and economic competitiveness.” Especially since less than two-thirds of students graduate at 85 percent of public 4-year-colleges. So much for free tuition!

Arthur Levine, Ph.D., former president of Teachers College Columbia University, now president of Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, released The“Education Schools Project,” comprised of three research reports (2005-2007). Sadly, the report appears to have been eclipsed by THE FOUR’s staunch acceptance of Obama’s Race To The Top and Common Core, despite any research validation and strong citizen backlash.

Walter E. Williams said: “Schools of education represent the academic slums of colleges.” Levine wrote in “Educating School Teachers” that “the nation’s teacher education programs are inadequately preparing their graduates to meet the realities of today’s standards-based, accountability-driven classrooms, in which the primary measure of success is student achievement.” Teacher ed programs provide inadequate preparation; curriculum lacks rigor; low admission standards; and insufficient quality control.

Levine recommends: 1) Require teachers to have a B.A. or B.S. 4-year degree in an academic discipline, not Education; 2) Advanced Study: a fifth year to learn pedagogy; 3) Certification and licensure changes to raise quality; 4) Close failing programs.

Levine had harsh words for administrator programs in “Educating School Leaders”: They are a “race to the bottom” and nothing more than “cash cows” with “low admission and graduation standards.” Scholarship is “a-theoretical and immature.” Glaringly, their research doesn’t address if administrator programs have any impact on student achievement.

Knowledge, a strong code of ethics, allegiance to oath of office, duty and well-developed sense of responsibility desperately are needed by THE FOUR toward educating our children. The governor brags about the state’s “progressive” philosophy, yet it is this philosophy that failed to educate children for more than a century. It is this philosophy that produced Antifa, BAMN, BLM and other hate-America groups. It is this philosophy that teaches diversity and multiculturalism to the detriment of Western civilization and the making of Americans.

We need a Thomas Paine to rise from among THE FOUR! “O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth!”

Deann Nelson is a Jamestown resident.