Monday, October 16, 2006

The state of education in America

Sometimes I wonder how we, as a country, have made it this far. I'm not sure our educational systems are helping us any; this recent article in the New York Times only accentuates the problem. Let's take great, degreed teachers... and tell them they are not qualified.
Jefferds Huyck stood in a corner of the gymnasium, comfortable in being inconspicuous, as the annual awards ceremony began one Friday last May at Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz, Calif. He listened as the principal named 16 of Mr. Huyck’s students who had earned honors in a nationwide Latin exam, and he applauded as those protégés gathered near center court to receive their certificates.

Then the principal, Andrew Goldenkranz, said, "And here’s their teacher." Hundreds of students and parents and colleagues rose unbidden in a standing ovation. In that gesture, they were both celebrating and protesting.

As virtually everyone in the audience knew, Mr. Huyck would be leaving Pacific Collegiate, a charter school, after commencement. Despite his doctorate in classics from Harvard, despite his 22 years teaching in high school and college, despite the classroom successes he had so demonstrably achieved with his Latin students in Santa Cruz, he was not considered "highly qualified" by California education officials under their interpretation of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Huh? A doctorate... in the subject he's teaching... and 22 years of demonstrated teaching... and he's not highly qualified? It's no wonder Mr. Huyck is moving cross town to teach at a private school.

In my limited experience, I've found that good independent schools require academic rigor: knowledge of a subject as demonstrated by an academic degree in that subject. Frankly, I'm not sure in what way a couple of courses from an education department at the local college or university is going to really do for Mr. Huyck. I'm not going to go off on a rant about education departments, but it strikes me that Mr. Huyck likely knows more about teaching Latin to high school students than anyone in some ed department.

I'm always leery when I hear of a private school that requires her teachers to be state certified. State certification means very little, at least in my book. And, I guess, in Mr. Huyck's book, too.

1 comment:

Peter Stinson said...

Found this of some interest... on a job posting today at an independent school in Pennyslvania... for qualifications... Bachelor’s Degree with PA certification