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Walter Williams
Walter E. Williams
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Schools of Education

Comment

Larry Sand's article "No Wonder Johnny (Still) Can't Read" — written for The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, based in Raleigh, N.C. — blames schools of education for the decline in America's education. Education professors drum into students that they should not "drill and kill" or be the "sage on the stage" but instead be the "guide on the side" who "facilitates student discovery." This kind of harebrained thinking, coupled with multicultural nonsense, explains today's education. During his teacher education, Sand says, "teachers-to-be were forced to learn about this ethnic group, that impoverished group, this sexually anomalous group, that under-represented group, etc. — all under the rubric of 'Culturally Responsive Education.'"

Education majors are woefully lacking in academic skills. Here are some sample test questions for you to answer. Question 1: Which of the following is equal to a quarter-million? a) 40,000, b) 250,000, c) 2,500,000, d) 1/4,000,000 or e) 4/1,000,000. Question 2: Martin Luther King Jr. (insert the correct choice) for the poor of all races. a) spoke out passionately, b) spoke out passionate, c) did spoke out passionately, d) has spoke out passionately or e) had spoken out passionate. Question 3: What would you do if your student sprained an ankle? a) Put a Band-Aid on it, b) Ice it or c) Rinse it with water.

Guess whether these questions were on a sixth-grade, ninth-grade or 12th-grade test. I bet the average reader would guess that it's a sixth-grade test. Wrong. How about ninth-grade? Wrong again. You say, "OK, Williams, so they're 12th-grade test questions!" Still wrong. According to a Heartland Institute-published School Reform News (September 2001) article titled "Who Tells Teachers They Can Teach?", those test questions came from prospective teacher tests. The first two questions are samples from the Praxis I test for teachers, and the third is from the 1999 teacher certification test in Illinois. According to the Chicago Sun-Times (9/6/01), 5,243 Illinois teachers failed their teacher certification tests.

The Chicago Sun-Times also reported, "One teacher failed 24 of 25 teacher tests — including 11 of 12 Basic Skills tests and all 12 tests on teaching learning-disabled children." Yet that teacher was assigned to teach learning-disabled children in Chicago. Departments of education have solved the problem of teacher test failure. According to a New York Post story (11/14/11) titled "City teacher tests turn into E-ZPass," more than 99 percent of teachers pass.

Textbooks used in schools of education advocate sheer nonsense. A passage in Enid Lee et al.'s "Beyond Heroes and Holidays" reads: "We cannot afford to become so bogged down in grammar and spelling that we forget the whole story. ... The onslaught of antihuman practices that this nation and other nations are facing today: racism, and sexism, and the greed for money and human labor that disguises itself as 'globalization.'" Marilyn Burns' text "About Teaching Mathematics" reads, "There is no place for requiring students to practice tedious calculations that are more efficiently and accurately done by using calculators." "New Designs for Teaching and Learning," by Dennis Adams and Mary Hamm, says: "Content knowledge is not seen to be as important as possessing teaching skills and knowledge about the students being taught. ... Successful teachers understand the outside context of community, personal abilities, and feelings, while they establish an inside context or environment conducive to learning." That means it's no problem if a teacher can't figure out that a quarter-million is the same as 250,000. Harvey Daniels and Marilyn Bizar's text "Methods that Matter" reads, "Students can no longer be viewed as cognitive living rooms into which the furniture of knowledge is moved in and arranged by teachers, and teachers cannot invariably act as subject-matter experts." The authors add, "The main use of standardized tests in America is to justify the distribution of certain goodies to certain people."

Schools of education represent the academic slums of most any college. American education can benefit from slum removal.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

9 Comments | Post Comment
My two nephews attend public elementary school in Marietta, GA. The school work, texts assignments and teachers should recevie awards for their efforts. They mix challenged kids right along side of the smartest kids so everyone is exposed to the same curriculum.

I went to school in Southern California and my elementary education was terrible.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Maggie
Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:01 PM
My sixth-grade teacher two generations ago was a graduate of Columbia Teachers" College. I have not forgotten my total disbeilef when she told us that we shouldn't be doing arithmetic problems that weren't in the book because the ones in the book had been "scientifically thought up" and just making up problems ourselves (we were challenging each other) was going to warp our brains. I remember thinking that at some point in life I was going to be dealing with a checkbook whose numbers hadn't been scientifically thought up. I spent several evenings a week a few years ago tutoring a grandson through algebra, and we had fun spotting problems in his book that had been scientifically thought up so that everything cancelled out and they came out even. Real life isn't like that!
When I was in college, friends who were taking education classes said they learned how NOT to teach by observing their professors....
Comment: #2
Posted by: partsmom
Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:37 PM
Dr. Williams is absolutely right. Schools and colleges of education at the universities in the country are basically the place where college students get a degree while skipping having to learn any real material. I don't know how many students I've known who majored in some form of education and were able to therefore not take science, math, history or english. They could take some comprehensive course in the school of education like "Basic Mathematics for Educators." All other students at college (besides the philosophy majors, sociology majors and several of the humanities majors) have to actually learn something and be tested on it.

Colleges of education have become the central hub for political correctness and "sensitivity training" and well as "cultural understanding." I loved his reference to the quote about how we shouldn't get bogged down in the details like numbers, grammar and facts when the more important message of power struggles and oppression should be the focus. That is so true today. There is so much diversity training in colleges of education and many of the professors openly teach that diversity can't just be a part of education but that it "must be the central issue."

It is really embarassing what education has become in this country, and the colleges and schools of education at American universities share a lot of the blame.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Zack
Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:05 AM
Does anyone know of any research that suggests that multicultural education is detrimental to learning? If so, please share. Thank you.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Russell
Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:56 AM
As a college professor, every year I'm yearly subjected to lectures from Education Ph.D.s generously paid for by our administrators (who, quite often, also have Ph.D.s in education). They have, with few exceptions, been deeply ignorant of the concepts they're trying to address, and often have demonstrated no experience in teaching any actual subject.
In a decade of such lectures, only one ever said anything that was particularly useful, and he was quite proud of his Ph.D., which, he was proud to say, was the only Ph.D. thesis whose claim was shown to be true. His Ph.D.-level research showed that "students who study tend to learn more". This becomes only more laughable when one realizes all the Ph.D. recipients whose theses made claims that could not be shown to be true...
I had the misfortune to proctor a final exam for a 3rd year "Mathematics for Educators" course in eduction, and the questions there were stunning. "If a 12 foot ladder was broken into 3 equal parts, how long would each part be?" and "If you buy a gallon of milk for $1.39 and a loaf of bread for $2.06, what would your total bill be?" Meanwhile, third year mathematics courses are covering actual mathematics concepts beyond the level a 10 year old would need.
"Slum" is an accurate depiction of Education departments, as they are insulated from the rest of the university. Not only is there a "Math for Education Majors" course, there are also "Chemistry for...", "Art for...", "Physics for..." and numerous others. Apparently education majors don't actually learn any actual subjects, just highly watered down versions limited to only what the youngest of children might be able to comprehend.
Despite this insulation, I often get education majors in my lower level math courses. Invariably, I get the complaint of "I'm only going to be teaching 8 year olds, why do I need this stuff?"
To this I always respond "Because the parents of those kids want the teacher to know more than an 8 year old."
Due to all the complaints, this year Administration brought in the head of a Department of African American studies to lecture us on diversity for 2 hours. His nonscholarship was jaw-dropping. Some quotes: "When Alexander the great conquered Alexandria, he found the Great Library there, and brought the knowledge back to Greece to form the foundations of Western Civilization"; "If you read Mein Kampf, you'll see the only reason Hitler hated the Jews was because there were no black people in Germany". I have a whole page of such howlers, as I fortunately brought pen and paper to take notes.
Nevertheless, I found myself wishing for another Education Ph.D. ...ignorance is preferable such rubbish.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Doom
Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:14 AM

Deer Walter Williamson:

It's know woder that Larry Sands artle “Know woder Johhny Cann't Reed” for the Willem Poop Centre fore hire edukcaion Polishsee baised en Rallie,N.C. blames skools for the dekline en Amerikas eduksonal sestern I gradgeated from collage wid a degeree in edukcayion and this dern computer keeps tying to corect my speling. I concider my edukcaiontion too bee top nooch.Although I due question the edukcayion of sum of r political candates and there intelect.

Aye say dat r currant presidental candates r woofuly laking in appademic skils muck lik the Scarecrow in “The Wizzerd of Ouse”whose looking for a brain.Myster Williamson hear r sum questions fore u to answer Sea if y due better then r currant poloticos Question 1)Michele Bachman wished happy birthday to Elvis on the anniversary of his 1) birth 2) wedding 3) military induction 4) death

Question 2 According to Michele Bachmann in what state was the shot heard around the world fired? 1) Philadelphia 2) New Hampshire 3) Massachusetts 4) New York

Question 3) According to Michele Bachman which of the following was a Founding Father 1) Abraham Lincoln 2) FDR 3) John Quincy Adams 4) Elvis Question 4 Rick Perry said he would eliminate three agencies of government they are 1) Interior, Defense, Senate

2) Commerce, Treasury, House of Reps 3) Commerce, Education” I can't remember the third one, I can't. Sorry.” 4) Legislative, Executive, Commerce Question 5)

Which presidential candidate used the term “blood libel” without realizing it was an anti-Semitic term? 1) Ron Paul 2) Michele Bachman 3) Sarah Palin 4) President Obama Question 6) What GOP candidate said that The GOP budget is “radical…right-wing social engineering” 1) Adam Smith 2) John Smith 3) Newt Gingrich 4) Sarah Palin Question 7) This President put the wrong date when he signed the guestbook at Westminster Abbey in 2011 as “24 May 2008” 1) Abraham Lincoln 2) Ben Franklin 3) Barock Obama 4) Tom Brady Question 8) Which candidate confused John Wayne with John Wayne Gacy (the serial killer) 1) Newt Gingrich 2) Richard Nixon 3) Michele Bachmann 4) Ron Paul Question 8) Which candidate stated “Corporations are people” 1) Joe Paterno 2) Neil Armstrong 3) Mitt Romney 4) John Lennon Question 9) Which candidate said “ OK , Libya, President Obama supported the uprising, correct? 1) Gingrich 2) Palin 3) Cain 4) Romney Question 10) Which candidate stated that the American Revolution occurred in the 16th Century 1) Newt Gingrich 2) Rick Perry 3) Sarah Palin 4) Copernicus 11) According to Herman Cain “life,liberty'and the pursuit of happiness “ is stated in what historical document? 1) Magna Carta 2) Bill of Rights 3) Constitution 4) Declaration of Independence



I belief that the slums of edukion arnt wit the collages but wit peeple like u whoo should try teeching in the pubic skools ant sea how long u would last. Get out of ur ivy tower.

Oh yes the answers, of course, you should b able to answer since day are on the grauate level. Perhaps the candydates should go back to skool and get a pooper edukshion wit good teacures like u.”Those who can do;those who can't, teach” George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists: Education. Man and Superman, 1903.

Sincerely, Don Mosser



1) 4

2) 2

3) 3

4) 3

5) 3

6) 3

7) 3

8) 3

9) 3

10) 3


11) 3
Comment: #6
Posted by: Don
Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:00 PM
Hi Walter:

With all due respect, you are misinformed, largely uninformed, and totally off-base about schools of education. Why are you writing about this as an economist? Have you solved the problems of economics and now have time to move over to education? Let's clarify a few things. 1) Schools of education teach human/child development, psychology, sociology, pedagogy. curriculum design, quantitative and qualitative research, history, etc...... 2) Teachers must study both their content area and these subjects. 3) Children benefit from teachers who went to proper education schools more than they do from teachers who switch careers and suddenly decide to be educators. Of course there are exceptions. There are competent career changers and incompetent teacher trainees... I have taught in Philadelphia for 12 years. Your arguments are bogus, biased, and for you to compare any school to a slum... in fact to even use the word slum in 2012, brother, you aren't doing anybody justice. Check out the teacher test (Praxis) guides at the bookstore. You really must..... If you want to support raising expectations that's one thing. But for you to bash an entire field of study at the higher ed level is absurd, hurtful, and disingenuous (considering the fact that you don't work in one).
Comment: #7
Posted by: Josh
Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:07 PM
There is no nonsense or coddeling in my English education courses. I agree cognitive achievement must be deliberate and not just hinted at in feel-good stories of heroes or animals. Mr. Williams, before you make sweeping (and in some cases- justified) accusations about fluff as content in teacher education, I invite you to Utah, to my university, to my classroom. From direct teaching and modeling of reading pedagogy to a hammering away at withering punctuation skills, our preservice teachers do not dwell in a slum, AND they pass the Praxis exam. Thank you.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Kay Smith
Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:55 AM
Re: Josh
When was the last time you read John Gatto, Ivan Illich, John Holt, Charlotte Iserbyte, Albert Einstein, HL Mencken, Mark Twain, George B Leonard, Maria Montessori, or AS Neill on the nature of education or learning? Ever? Never?
The fact of the matter is that Walter is right --- "Education" departments have consistently been composed of those with the lowest college entrance exams (you know, the SAT and such).
Your life as an "Educator" consists of passing on inaccurate history, sociology, ecomomics. political philosophy, science and everything else according to a curriculum determined by publishing houses who publish "textbooks" which are not real books at all, and pretending that the stupid shit you do every day is for the benefit of "the children." You do not understand the way the world really works. YOU have your masters. After you've jumped through their hoops to get your "degree", you will pass on your own ignorance to the next generation of victims (the CHILDREN).
Wake your stupid ass up. Public Schooling in America is simply programming and indoctrination into a government-sanctioned system of lies and deceits. Your profession, once a noble endeavor, is now nothing more than serf-training. Can God bless you for doing such work? I think not.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Juan Matus
Thu Jan 3, 2013 6:11 PM
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