Education Letter to the Editor

Faulting Experts’ Advice Calls for Greater Exposure to Real Schools

June 14, 2005 2 min read

To the Editor:

Regarding your May 25, 2005, front-page article “Panel Urges New Testing for Teachers” (May 25, 2005.):

Instead of spending gobs of money on testing, why not have teacher trainees do a yearlong internship in the schools with pay? This way, internships wouldn’t be an economic hardship on working trainees. They could work in the classroom and on the curriculum, and attend in-depth workshops and seminars.

There is nothing like going into the battlefield of public schools to gain experience with students. I’d like this expert panel of distinguished educators to do that before recommending more teacher testing. They should go into a public school for a year and see what teachers have to deal with.

Adelaide Gage

Columbus, Ohio

To the Editor:

With regard to your article “Panel Urges New Testing for Teachers,” I would like to ask Stanford University professor Linda Darling-Hammond and her circle of ivory-tower-dwelling pundits this: What makes a good teacher?

Do we measure good teaching by student performance on high-stakes tests, or is it measured in the positive impact that individual teachers have on their students’ lives? And how do we measure impact?

Could it be that a good teacher for one child might not be a good teacher for another? Are good teachers the folks who work 80-hour weeks and approach their jobs with a missionary zeal, or can a good teacher go home at 3 p.m. when the contract stipulates?

Do good teachers develop differentiated curricula that attend to the needs of all children in a democratic, inclusive setting, or is it possible that some good, even great, teachers reach only a very few students in each class? Do good teachers always love what they do? Can a good teacher spurn education reform as just another passing elitist fad?

Until the education experts in this country can unequivocally define for me what makes a good teacher, I will continue to find the work of academics worthy of nothing more than a passing glance, a roll of the eyes. As Alvy Singer so aptly put it to his second wife in the film “Annie Hall” (and I am paraphrasing), “For all their brilliance, intellectuals truly have no idea what’s going on.”

Daniel Weintraub

Quechee, Vt.

To the Editor:

I just finished reading the article “Panel Urges New Testing for Teachers” and I wanted to comment. As a veteran educator, I do believe that prospective teachers should be exposed to more professional development. But the education problem is greater than people think.

If education is so important to our nation and to these researchers at the National Academy of Education, then why is it funded so poorly? Why don’t we have better professional-development programs and higher salaries for teachers? Why don’t we have better textbooks? Why don’t we send the message to parents that schools are institutions of learning?

I sometimes wish that researchers were in the classroom teaching. It is much easier sitting on the outside looking in and making suggestions than it is being in the trenches.

Ruth Delgado

Bryan, Texas