Arkansas Governor Defends Tests In Debate With A.F.T.'s Shanker
Chicago--The Governor of Arkansas strongly defended his state's controversial teacher-competency examination here last week during a debate with the president of the American Federation of Teachers and a prominent education researcher.
Speaking during a session at the American Educational Research Association's annual meeting here, Gov. Bill Clinton discounted criticism leveled against the teacher-testing requirement as "purely academic."
"You can make all sorts of arguments about how we should have tried this on an experimental basis, but I tell you, if we had let four or five years pass without acting, we would have wound up with nothing, in my view," the Governor said.
"The time to act was then," he continued. "It's not often that the nation's attention is focused on eduction. If we had waited, we would have had more business as usual."
Governor Clinton was responding to criticism of the requirement from John I. Goodlad, whose seven-year study of high schools helped spark the current national debate on the quality of American education.
Mr. Goodlad, former dean of the the University of California, Los Angeles, Graduate School of Education argued that a pilot test of the examination requirement "was desperately called for."
He also said that during the time he was an elementary-school teacher, "the idea of taking such a test would have been noxious to me."
Mr. Goodlad suggested that instead of requiring practicing teachers to pass competency tests as a condition for recertification, states should require prospective teachers to pass an examination administered by a professional licensing board.
The Arkansas testing requirement also came under fire from Albert Shanker, the president of the aft
Mr. Shanker predicted that such requirements would result in severe teacher shortages. When faced with such shortages, he continued, states would probably be forced to grant emergency certification to ill-trained individuals, thus exacerbating an already difficult situation.
"In my view, requirements like this will have a very negative effect," he said.--tm