Tuesday, August 15, 2006
DUMB AND DUMBER: ARE WE STUPID FOR EXPECTING
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS TO BE SMART ENOUGH TO FIX EDUCATION?
A frequent contributor to an education listserv that feeds GoBigEd daily, Tom Shuford, has written a provocative letter to the editor of the government watchdog website, www.stateline.org, published Aug. 8. It's pretty juicy!
Here it is:
You report that over the next year Governor Napolitano will try to recreate some of her successes at the national level, by promoting policies to improve science and mathematics education and spur new technological innovations: "There really needs to be a sense of urgency about this because we're fast losing our position."
She is right about the urgency. In my state, North Carolina, for example, the entire UNC system turned out three physics teachers in the last four years.
But the solution will appall her --- and the major Democratic Party interest group: the teachers unions. For the shortage of physics teachers is a bell curve phenomenon: Few have the aptitude to master physics.
Combined Graduate Record Examination scores of applicants for graduate study in physics and astronomy -- 1272 -- were the highest of all 51 areas of graduate study (tested between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2004). The mean GRE score of all 1.2 million applicants was 1066; the mean for all education majors, 984. Education majors, with the exception of secondary education (1063) in the middle, are bunched on the left side of the curve; physics majors are on the right tip.
It's not because of the "profession's low pay" (and hence the need for more funding, the traditional Democratic Party answer for all problems with schools). It's because the great leveling monopoly we know as public education will not abide differential pay for rare talent.
One reason may be that the people in charge of these politically controlled monopolies, education administrators, are on the far left side of the bell curve themselves, with a mean GRE of 950. (emphasis added)
Lenoir, North Carolina
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