Wrong, wrong, wrong, Mr. President
We are obligated to respect the office of President of the United States but nobody needs to agree with what the occupant of that office says. And Barack Obama could not have been more wrong in his mid-day remarks yesterday to the nation's governors on the subject of school teachers.
The President could not have been more wrong in his remarks yesterday to the nation's governors on the subject of school teachers.
Photo by jamesomalley.
In perhaps his most vivid example yet of election-year pandering to the teacher unions that comprise a non-trivial part of the Democratic Party's "base," he rattled on at considerable length about the need to "get more teachers into our classrooms."
MORE teachers. Not better teachers. Not teachers that add greater value to their students and make their schools more effective. Not teachers who know their subject matter. Not more pay and greater professional opportunities for outstanding teachers. Just plain MORE TEACHERS, supported with more money from federal and state budgets.
Don't ask whether that's the best possible use of scarce education dollars in a time of reduced revenue and perilous debt. Just spend more on more teachers.
Almost everybody who has paid any attention to education policy or finance by now knows that the student:teacher ratio in U.S. schools went from 27:1 in the 1950's to 14:1 today as a result of our habit of hiring MORE TEACHERS and devoting every available education dollar to that pursuit. Just about everyone knows that has meant essentially flat teacher salaries—and the hiring of hundreds of thousands of people who are, to put it kindly, not the sharpest knives in their drawers. Just about everyone knows that effective teachers make an enormous, positive difference in children's lives—and that ineffective instructors all but doom their pupils to educational failure.
Think about it. Would you rather have a child you care about in a class of 28 with a highly effective teacher or a class of 23 with a mediocre teacher? Following the President's advice is a recipe for the latter.
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About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
May 23, 2013
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