Joy Leiker of the Muncie Star Press has an article on Superintendent of Public Instruction (But Certainly not a Creationist) Tony Bennett’s latest proposition for changing the rules about who can teach. On its face, it seems more or less plausible: cut out the bureaucracy and focus more on the substantive education, making sure the teachers have more expertise in the subject areas they are teaching.
But, not to put too fine a point on it, I don’t trust the messenger. There has been a fervor for breaking the teacher’s unions – and where proposals for education reform might tend to break the union, my cynicism leads me to believe that’s the purpose of the exercise.
I don’t know the specifics of Bennett’s proposals – my fault. But as a general rule, I would suggest that the younger the child, the more important the teacher have received education about how to teach as opposed to, necessarily, education in the particular field. It’s much more important that a first grade teacher know how to communicate with six year olds than that the teacher know differential equations before teaching the kids addition and subtraction.
My passing impression of the education system is that there is plenty of unnecessary bureaucracy and job-protecting jargon. But, efforts to cut through those things should be coupled to a commitment to paying and treating our educators like professionals. The article briefly mentions Bennett’s apparent belief that teachers can cram their continuing education in during some unspecified period of the day reminds me a bit of Wal-mart managers who locked their employees in the stores and required them to work without pay.