Wednesday, June 09, 2004


The Washington Post education guy wonders if he should have more guest columnists. Hell, yes, if they are like Richard Chapleau. Please read Chapleau's essay, If I were emperor of education.
    ... If I were emperor, I'd show them that all these ideas are wrong.

    My first two imperial acts would be to fire one-third of American teachers and then to give every parent a one-question quiz.

    I'd fire the teachers who have stopped trying in their rooms, who use their training and intellect to belittle the kids. There's no place in our schools for teachers who pass out endless worksheets or show non-stop videos. I'm a proud member of two unions, mind you: the California Teachers Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (from a former career). Unions were not designed to protect the incompetent workers, but instead were designed to protect workers from incompetent bosses. We built the strongest middle class in the world in the last century because of unions, but now are in danger of losing the middle class, also because of unions.

    Next, every parent of a two-year old would have a one-question quiz, and they'd all have to take it at the same instant. I know too much about cheating, of course. The question would be "One Fish, Two Fish." Any parent who didn't write "Red Fish, Blue Fish" would be required to sign a Universal Release of Liability and Parental Promise Not to Whine Statement. A parent who can't spout Dr. Seuss or Mother Goose, but who can name 10 movie stars, pro sports players or rock idols is ruining their child's future. They can't give their children the first four years of life in an impoverished educational environment, then expect the schools to fix all of their mistakes. A parent is the first and most important teacher their children will ever know, but most parents never spend that magical time with their child on the sofa. The TV is off, the book is open, and their child is captured for life by the rhythm of a nursery rhyme. Four years watching reruns or ball games hardwires the future student to expect entertainment, not education, from 12 years of school.

    My last act as emperor is the only one I know could really be achieved in the "real world" I hear so much about. I would take teacher evaluation away from administrators. Who is in charge of the American Bar Association? Attorneys. Who runs the AMA? Physicians. Who watches the teachers? People who haven't been in a classroom in many years. Administrators, criminally overworked administrators. They must watch hundreds of students, tens of secretaries and custodians, and also a few dozen teachers. Guess who takes up most of their time? The children who spent four years watching videos. Yet, these same harried administrators are also asked to give clinical input into the skills of classroom teachers...
I'm behind everyone on this; see also Tim's comments at his must-read site, Assorted Stuff.