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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

California's not all lost

--posted by Tony Garcia on 5/10/2006

Remember Jay Bannish? Some of the response I got was upset that I was using the poor example of a teacher (Bannish) as continued evidence that the state of education is dire and in need of a complete overhaul.

Well, a letter to the editor from my hometown paper explains why these teachers are so damaging.
I'm married to a public high school teacher, my sister is a public elementary school teacher and my daughter is studying to become a public school teacher. I'm not anti-teacher by any means.

Even if 75 percent of teachers are good or at least average, the damage that can be done by the other 25 percent is frightening. The fact is that many school administrators know very little about what goes on in the classroom, and care even less. School administrators come to my wife's classroom once a year for less than five minutes to evaluate her ability and the content of what she's teaching, this included her very first year as a rookie teacher.

A student at Overland High School in Aurora, Colo., recently recorded one of his teachers' classroom lectures where the teacher attacked President Bush's State of the Union Speech by saying that he sounded a lot like Adolf Hitler.

He went on to say that President Bush, "is threatening the whole planet," and "wants to keep the world divided." Then he asked his class: "who is probably the most violent nation on the planet?" and before they could respond, shouted, "The United States." He also told them that capitalism is at odds with humanity, caring, compassion and human rights.

Was this a class in political science? No. It was a geography class. When parents complained, the teacher, Jay Bennish, was placed on administrative leave, but later returned to class.

Meanwhile, a Global Geographic Literacy Survey of Americans 18 to 24 years of age found that 29 percent could not correctly identify the Pacific Ocean on a map, and 11 percent could not find the continental United States. With teachers using the classroom to indoctrinate our kids on their political views, instead of teaching the subject that taxpayers are paying them to teach, is it any wonder? The really frightening thing is that this story is all too common.

The competition that would result from school vouchers would force public school administrators to find out what's going on in the classroom and make darn certain it's what parents are paying them to teach. Economics 101, and just plain common sense, teaches us that competition always improves quality.
It is all about the competition. Competition makes the product better.


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