Thursday, March 16, 2017

Illiterate Teachers

A recent article by the AP illustrates, perhaps inadvertantly, how political correctness harms minority kids. The article explains that New York education officials are planning to do away with a test given to prospective teachers to test their ability to read and comprehend what the read. The reason the test is being terminated is that too few minority teaching candidates are passing it:
New York education officials are poised to scrap a test designed to measure the reading and writing skills of people trying to become teachers, in part because an outsized percentage of black and Hispanic candidates were failing it.

The state Board of Regents on Monday is expected Monday to adopt a task force's recommendation of eliminating the literacy exam, known as the Academic Literacy Skills Test.

Backers of the test say eliminating it could put weak teachers in classrooms. Critics of the examination said it is redundant and a poor predictor of who will succeed as a teacher.
Well, maybe so if the teachers are going to be teaching something like phys ed, but if they're going to stand in front of an academic classroom one would think it'd be to their advantage and that of their students that they be able to read the textbooks their students are using. If they cannot it makes the claim that teaching is a profession somewhat hard to defend.
Leaders of the education reform movement have complained for years about the caliber of students entering education schools and the quality of the instruction they receive there. A December 2016 study by the National Council on Teacher Quality found that 44 percent of the teacher preparation programs it surveyed accepted students from the bottom half of their high school classes.

The reformers believe tests like New York's Academic Literacy Skills Test can serve to weed out aspiring teachers who aren't strong students.

But the literacy test raised alarms from the beginning because just 46 percent of Hispanic test takers and 41 percent of black test takers passed it on the first try, compared with 64 percent of white candidates.

A federal judge ruled in 2015 that the test was not discriminatory, but faculty members at education schools say a test that screens out so many minorities is problematic.

"Having a white workforce really doesn't match our student body anymore," Soodak said.
This seems a silly justification for allowing semi-literate teachers to be teaching kids. Having teachers who are married or over the age of twenty doesn't match the student body either, but those are not compelling reasons to employ single teenagers as teachers.

Kids, no matter what skin color they may have, deserve to have the best educated professionals at the front of their classrooms that the school can provide, whatever skin color those professionals may be. We do these young people no favors by truckling to the racist shibboleth that only black teachers can teach black students nor do we improve their chances in life by yielding to the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Perhaps there are good reasons, as some people quoted in the article believe, for dispensing with this particular test, but the fact that those who fail are disproportionately black and Hispanic is not among them since the test was found by a federal court not to be discriminatory. In any case, there's an irony lurking about here.

When blacks were enslaved their owners often made it a serious offense for them to learn to read or for others to try to teach them to read. A literate, educated slave was considered to be dangerous. Now, education officials are tacitly saying that they, too, would rather young blacks not be taught to read if they're to be taught by competent, literate teachers who'll be able to exemplify the value and importance of literacy but who aren't the same color as the students.

The motivation of the state officials, though misguided, is certainly more noble than that of the slaveholders, but the end result is the same - black kids are held down and prevented from receiving the best education they can get, and thereby prevented from improving their chances of advancing in life.

I assume the education officials don't see the injustice of what they're doing to these kids but I wonder if they see the irony.