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« A Reminder of How Much the Heritage Foundation Hates Workers | Main | Good Thing They Don't Remember Clinton Had a "Czar Czar" »

September 06, 2009


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Hi Mithras,

I cannot say that I usually get 60 comments on a post. Nor are the issues of some my commenters the same concerns that I have here.

To use an analogy, how comfortable would you be in practicing law with an "attorney" who had never graduated law school? Or having your child be their client? Or having your child attend a law school where roughly 80% + of the professors were not lawyers? That's the state of history ed. in public schools. Most social studies teachers have neither a major nor a minor in history or a social science field. I find that to be problematic.

To me, basic professional competence begins with at least a BA in the field being taught ( it doesn't stop there but it is a minimum expectation). Math teachers should have degrees in math. English teachers should have degrees in Lit or grammar. Spanish teachers should be expected to have fluency in Spanish and instructors of history should have actually studied it.

Standards are important but they matter little if they do not reach the students. NAEP, whose scores cannot be gamed by state Ed. officials like state tests frequently are, reveal that only 17% of 8th graders are "proficient"" for their grade level in history ( "proficient" means "average" in NAEP-speak) virtually none are "advanced" and the vast majority are at the remedial level of "basic" - meaning a very large percentage of their answers are wrong.

Interestingly enough, the 17% is a rough correlation with the percentage instructors who have at least a minor in a social science field.

The problem isn't that students are not reading about Alan Greenspan because of the Cesar Chavez unit or infusions of "Whiteness Studies" or other ideological zaniness - the problem is that history is being spottily, if at all, taught at elementary levels and is being presented haphazardly at the secondary level, mostly be folks who are qualified to teach something else.

Regarding the Marxism business, I think Zenpundit meant Marxism in the sense of economic/class-based units of analysis, rather than the idea of history textbooks instructing students to throw off the chains of their masters.

I think the comment thread died after Seerov's conspiracy rant because nobody could think of anything to top it. He posts that stuff at TDAXP frequently though (part of the reason I stopped visiting there).

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