To the Editor:
Regarding James S. Liebman’s Commentary “Ending the Great School Wars” (Dec. 12, 2012): The Measures of Effective Teaching Project found, “Across all [five] instruments, raters rarely found highly accomplished practice for the competencies often associated with the intent to teach students higher-order thinking skills.”
A related MET report found that teachers scored low on “analysis and problem-solving” and “student participation in making meaning and reasoning.” Another report, by the Consortium on Chicago School Research, found similar results, and as reported in the Teacher Beat blog on edweek.org (Feb. 9, 2012), the findings “highlight some fairly consistent weaknesses in instruction and raise big question marks for teacher and leadership preparation,” particularly in light of the Common Core State Standards.
Therefore, based on these reports and others, and generally poor student achievement, it is absurd for Mr. Liebman to argue, “This fight is ... not about public school pedagogy or curriculum,” when it manifestly is the case.
Mr. Liebman is not only on the wrong battlefield, he is in the wrong war. There is a pedagogy and curriculum issue, but it rests squarely in schools of education and other organizations engaged in teacher preparation.
When showing their teacher-candidates how to engage new and revisited subject matter, teacher-educators must change their reliance on rote-inducing, literacy-defeating serialism to one that employs and promotes explicit analytic thinking, reading, and writing strategies. Only then will teachers be able to overcome the poor preparation they now receive and thereby take possession of their own profession.
Victor P. Maiorana
The Human Knowome Institute
Deer Park, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the January 23, 2013 edition of Education Week as Teacher Training Needs New Focus