Not So Great Expectations
By Walt Noot
My lament about education is simply that I contend we expect way too little of our students. Work that is considered AP (advanced placement) worthy is what I consider minimally acceptable for a high school graduate. Since my student teaching days I have had an ongoing battle with teachers of other disciplines that don’t insist upon proper grammar in the work they receive from students. I maintain that it is incumbent upon them to grade not only on content but also on the manner in which the information is presented. More alarming is the number of times I have witnessed even English teachers abusing the language. I suspect that the teachers of other subjects, in reality, don’t themselves believe the argument that it isn’t their responsibility to address grammatical errors. I assert that they themselves know they aren’t proficient enough to do so and don’t want to expose their inadequacy.
Unless there has been a drastic change in the tests given prospective teachers to attain certification, the TPE (Teacher Proficiency Exam as it was called when I took the test) does little more than to reveal you are able to read and perhaps balance a checkbook. Before a teacher is turned loose in a classroom he or she ought to be able to pass a much more stringent test that displays they have more than a rudimentary grasp of their subject matter. Additionally, since the world revolves around communication, I also believe the teachers of other disciplines should be required to verify their competency in the use of the English language.
When I hear complaints about education, said complaints generally address the lack of spending on a per pupil basis and low salaries for teachers. Let’s keep in mind that our cost of living is lower than that of many states where comparisons are drawn. Furthermore, I contend salaries should have little to do with longevity in the classroom. Competence and ongoing education should be the corollary determining remuneration. Institutions that are turning out teachers ought to make it abundantly clear that this is not a profession that will make you wealthy. In my utopian meritocracy they could get rich but that will never happen with unions in the way and the basic structure of education funding.
I suspect my crusade to influence the adoption of tougher requirements for teachers and concomitant student expectations is futile. Typically, the greater the expectation, the greater the resultant performance.