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Showing posts with label Higher Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Higher Education. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Let’s Help Academia Destroy Itself

By Kurt Schlichter

Conservatives should welcome the decline of academia as we know it. I, for one, will celebrate its death by engaging in the same activity that characterized my four years at what some call its pinnacle – drinking a lot of Coors Light.

There is still nostalgia among conservatives, especially older ones who have forgotten what college is really like, for the idea of higher education as a rigorous venue for intellectual growth, an environment of exciting and vibrant ideas shared by wise, caring educators dedicated to the pursuit of truth.

Today, it is nothing of the sort.

For the vast majority of traditional, liberal arts students, college is a four-year blur of cheap alcohol and tawdry hooks-ups, with their few sober moments characterized by interaction with pony-tailed TAs spouting off about “patriarchal paradigms” and trying to pick up on cute sophomores. Worse, this bacchanalia will saddle the participants with a couple hundred thousand in student debt that they get to carry off into real life, where they will discover that the only thing their degrees in Comparative Norwegian Feminist Literature qualify them for is exciting careers in the world of artisanal coffee retailing.

Call it the College-Progressive Complex. The first part consists of the schools themselves, with their herds of administrators, professors and impoverished grad students chasing the brass tenure ring. Think of it as a liberal tick, sucking blood and growing fatter off the efforts of Americans who actually produce something while contributing nothing to society except the clearly secondary contributions of those few in the fields of science and mathematics.

 Read more at Townhall >>


Friday, July 24, 2009

Maintaining the Status Quo in Education

By David Kirkpatrick

Potential sources of reforming public education are the institutions of higher education. After all, virtually all of the professionals in the K-12 system are products of higher education, from at least four years for a bachelor's degree to qualify as a teacher to years more for advanced degrees and for the innumerable specialty degrees.

Yet higher education has not only not helped improve basic education, it has been a major roadblock.

More than a generation ago Martin Haberman in an article entitled "Twenty-Three Reasons Universities Can't Educate Teachers" wrote, "(T)here isn't a single example of school change university faculty have researched and advocated that is now accepted practice...Any status survey will reveal that the proverbial-third grade in Peoria grinds on pretty much as it did in 1910."

True then. True now. And it is probably safe to predict that it will be true tomorrow.

This has had at least the acquiescence of teacher unions, if not their outright approval, or they would try to change it.

Proof that unions are a major obstacle to reform, if proof is needed, came in Colorado when a series of reforms were introduced in the state legislature. These included alternative teacher certification, a pilot voucher program, privatization, special contracts and merit pay.

It would be unrealistic to expect a teacher union to endorse such a wide-ranging program. And the state education association did not do so. As might have been anticipated, it termed them "so-called" reforms and announced that it would oppose every one of them.

In Florida the teacher union opposed both master teacher and merit plans, showing its unanimity with other teacher unions across the nation to this day.

In California, teachers were pressured to not sign charter school petitions and to harass those who might circulate or try to sign such petitions. School districts willing to grant charters even faced lawsuits.

In New Jersey, home of one of the strongest state education associations in the nation, that union not only opposed any steps toward privatization but warned its members to look out for such dangerous moves as site-based management, allowing two teachers to work together in the same classroom, and even proposals to provide teachers with computers or telephones.

John I. Goodlad has written that "both the NEA and the strange notion that children need two adults at home but can stand only one at a time in a school."

It would be difficult to act much dumber than that. Teachers in their self-contaminated classrooms are the only professionals who consistently work in such isolation. Increasingly, here and there, some teachers have come to recognize that this is not necessarily "the way it's spozed to be,'as demonstrated by the fact that such classroom technology has not only gradually been introduced here and there since then but has often occurred not only with teacher acceptance but following their active encouragement.

Ironically, the more pressure is exerted on the system to change, and the more the unions are criticized, the more teachers take such criticism personally - a tendency the unions are happy to exploit."

As long as 35 years ago, In What's Best For the Children, Mario Fantini observed:

"(R)ank-and-file teachers, afraid of the external forces that are converging on them, turn increasingly to their professional organizations for protection. In return for this protection, the teachers give up their individually and their authority. This is delegated to a small group who will wage the protective war. All the rank and file need to do is to cooperate, to follow faithfully the suggestions of the central leadership group."

That is still true today, except fewer people speak of teacher groups as "professional organizations."

It can also be argued that the constant attacks on unions have actually strengthened them by frightening the teachers. The answer is to make unions unnecessary by implementing teacher independence and choice, which is why most charter schools and private schools are not organized, and why the unions oppose such teacher freedom...

Although, sadly, most schools of choice are not overly innovative either.

David W. Kirkpatrick is a champion of the school choice movement who also served as a senior officer of the National Education Assn (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the American Assn of University Professors (AAUP). He is a life member of the NEA, NEA-Retired, the PA State Education Assn (PSEA), PSEA-Retired, and the PA Assn of School Retirees (PASR). Co-founder, 1997, and first National Chairman, 1997-98, of Parents in Control (P-I-C), his current memberships include the Assn of Educators in Private Practice (AEPP), The American Assn of Educators (AAE), and the National Retired Teachers Assn Division of the American Assn of Retired Persons (NRTA-AARP).

A retired public educator, Kirkpatrick was an Easton (PA) Area School District high school history teacher and district social studies department chairman; and president of the Easton Area and Pennsylvania State Education Associations. He was a Distinguished Fellow with the Blum Center for Parental Freedom in Education, Marquette University, Milwaukee, from 1995 until the Center closed at the end of July 1999 and a Senior Fellow with the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, Pittsburgh, 1998-2000.