Thursday, February 05, 2004

Debating the debate coach 

The MinnWORST people continue to carry on in one of my comment boxes (at least she finds the right one, unlike M) that the signers of the letter did not understand the social science standards. Our tovarisch* cites a bill introduced to the Legislature that would remove the requirement that a full year of geography be taught in grades 9-12. But when was the bill introduced? February 2, last week, weeks after the letters were circulated and signed. Based on the law that exists now, a full year is required. There is nothing in the proposed law that requires geography to receive less than a full year; it would be my personal preference that it not be reduced. But we are bombarded by the MinnWORSTers that the standards are too prescriptive and disrespectful of teacher prerogatives and expertise. So it appears a compromise was made separate from the standards, dropped into this document. Readers can decide if the signers of this letter made a mistake or not. As we noted,
No set of Standards can be letter-perfect, and signers of this letter reserve the right to comment individually on specific points. Subject to such adjustment, the Standards are in our judgment a reasonable approximation of what K-12 students ought to be learning in these areas, and we recommend their approval by the Legislature.
I actually already have sent some of these to the committee.

Meanwhile, here's the teacher's web page. Using the MAPSSS tactic one could say someone who links to Tom Tomorrow is a blatant left-wing ideologue. But rather, I'd ask her what she means by "You don't fatten a pig by weighing it", in relation to the standards (written in August, before they even came out)? And how about this?

My student teacher (who just got her license in January) confirms that the standard distribution requirements are still there

1 geography (Carleton essentially allowed their students ... to skip this requirement for some reason)

1 economics

1 sociology (you'll get this in your licensure classes anyways)

1 psychology (you'll get this in your licensure classes anyways)

1 US history

1 world history

1 political science/government

... at Carleton at least 2 or 3 of the classes need to be upper-level, not intro. I don't remember that part at Macalester. Nobody seemed to care at all about the actual topics studied.

Also there is now this silly praxis content-area test.

Ah yes, Praxis. A test passed in 1985 but only given to teachers first in 2001. Luckily, anyone with a license before 9/1/01 doesn't have to pass it, since new teachers in 2001-02 answered only 68% of the geography questions correctly nationwide. Later Teacher says
Quite honestly, I don't really see why a person needs a major in chemistry in order to teach high school chemistry, or why a person teaching 8th grade math needs to have a math major. I think there's more potential damage when the teacher doesn't have a good set of teaching skills than when she/he doesn't fully grasp college-level subject matter.

*--Because we're not yet drug y podruga.