Dumb Down? Dumb Up? Thumbs Down On American Educators

By Michael John McCrae
July 12, 2011

Three recent articles pointed at public school education in America display uncaring and arrogance from adult teachers, administrators and union thugs responsible for preparing children to compete in the new century.

The first article, from “The Blaze” blog asks a question: “Education Is Cursive Dead? Indiana Schools Dump Handwriting for Typing Skills”. From an “Indiana Tribune-star” report: “Indiana public schools will no longer be required to teach cursive handwriting come this fall, and instead students will be expected to learn keyboard typing skills. A memo from the Indiana Department of Education said schools may decide for themselves whether to keep teaching cursive, or to drop it from their curriculums completely.”

Just a couple of quick questions from me on this one: First: If children do not learn to write their names in cursive lettering, will they be permitted to sign their unemployment checks in block print letters? When it comes to a college education, will any of these children be able to read the cursive writings of historical literature? What of the various essay questions that will appear on standardized tests; will students be permitted to block-print their essays? When there is no keyboard available or if their computer crashes will that be a permissible excuse for not completing homework assignments?

Parents should be aware that this could be another ploy by educators to make “cheating” easier for teachers and superintendents of schools. If all the essays on standardized tests are in block print lettering then erasure and re-write is made that much simpler for unconscionable educators.

This leads to a second article entitled: “Investigation into APS cheating finds unethical behavior across every level”, by Heather Vogell of the “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution”, Wednesday, July 6, 2011.

The five page article reports on Atlanta Public Schools (APS) undergoing a major investigation into test tampering. The article begins: “Across Atlanta Public Schools, staff worked feverishly in secret to transform testing failures into successes. Teachers and principals erased and corrected mistakes on students’ answer sheets. Area superintendents silenced whistle-blowers and rewarded subordinates who met academic goals by any means possible.”

These are educators who make six-figure salaries “cooking” tests and reports to make Atlanta’s children seem much smarter than actual test results would display. They have been doing this for the past ten years. Anyone who thought to blow the whistle was threatened with blacklisting. Children were processed through Atlanta’s public school system that could not read or write at appropriate levels. The wide-spread cheating was found in 44 of Atlanta’s 56 school districts.

So take that 77-78 percent of APS and spread it statewide. Then take that percentage and spread it nationwide. If the totals show any percentage on the plus side it defines another proof that America’s children are not being served. Those being served are the educators, superintendents and union thugs who get the bonuses based on supposed classroom achievement. It was absolutely necessary for the APS to cook its books to show continued improvement. Had the actual test scores gone forward over those ten years it would have proven the inadequacy of Atlanta’s teachers and would have forced those benefiting from the cheating out of their cushy superintendent positions. This is educational fraud on a massive scale. You need to read the report.

One Michigan Teacher Union Leader did read the report and was prompted to comment. The third report comes from “The Grand Rapids Press” by Dave Murray entitled: “Teachers union leader fears Michigan tenure reform could lead to Atlanta-like cheating accusations”. His report begins with the question: “Will Michigan teachers cheat on standardized test scores, wilting under the pressure of tenure reforms and evaluations based in part on student performance?”

From the article: ““Kim Pfeiffer, Comstock Park teachers union president and a countywide union leader, said Atlanta teachers appeared to have caved into the demands of administrators to improve scores, fearing they'd lose their jobs if they did not.”

Mr. Murray’s report quoted this union leader extensively. Her “fear” is that now other school districts throughout Michigan and other states may demand the same type of accountability as Georgia. Her major concern is that it will affect “tenure” and job losses (loss of union dues-paying teachers). There didn’t seem to be very much concern for the students in Michigan’s public schools. If you will remember, there was a major shakeup of Detroit’s schools due to mismanagement and extremely high drop-out rates.

Why shouldn’t all public school systems be under scrutiny? Why shouldn’t the public demand that students be able to read and write at their grade level? How do we make teachers accountable if not by testing the children in their charge to see if they are actually teaching them anything?

This is what all public school officials fear. If they fail to teach children they should be losing their jobs. Teachers should not be permitted to claim job security (tenure) when children fail to show progress in education. It is time to reevaluate all public school districts and design a system that holds all teachers accountable for how and what they teach; then holds accountable the principals and superintendents that permit educational sloth.

Kim Pfeiffer’s view is that teachers should be protected no matter how well they do their work. She believes administrators should not demand progress. She is quoted: ““My concern about the recent events in Lansing to eliminate or substantially diminish the strength of teacher tenure and collective bargaining rights could lead to a similar situation [as APS] for schools in Michigan.”

She is more concerned for her due-paying union members than she seems to be for the children needing a quality education. She knows it is “tenure” and “collective bargaining” that keeps even the worse teachers in the front of Michigan classrooms. She does not want educational accountability through testing and the accurate reporting of test results for children taught in Michigan public schools.

The three reports cited above reflect a downgrading of American public school education. Teachers are not teaching so they must fudge test scores and promote children above their abilities. Unions protect teachers known to be incompetent. The children bear the brunt of such malaise. They drop out or they enter adult society wholly unprepared to become productive citizens. It is about time that state governors have begun questioning the worth of education. It is about time the states have begun holding teachers, administrators and unions accountable for poor performance and cheating. Let’s hope this trend toward accountability continues.


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