26 January 2012

Yet Another Reason to Homeschool

Education majors are woefully lacking in academic skills. Here are some sample test questions for you to answer. Question 1: Which of the following is equal to a quarter-million? a) 40,000, b) 250,000, c) 2,500,000, d) 1/4,000,000 or e) 4/1,000,000. Question 2: Martin Luther King Jr. (insert the correct choice) for the poor of all races. a) spoke out passionately, b) spoke out passionate, c) did spoke out passionately, d) has spoke out passionately or e) had spoken out passionate. Question 3: What would you do if your student sprained an ankle? a) Put a Band-Aid on it, b) Ice it or c) Rinse it with water.
Guess whether these questions were on a sixth-grade, ninth-grade or 12th-grade test. I bet the average reader would guess that it's a sixth-grade test. Wrong. How about ninth-grade? Wrong again. You say, "OK, Williams, so they're 12th-grade test questions!" Still wrong. According to a Heartland Institute-published School Reform News (September 2001) article titled "Who Tells Teachers They Can Teach?", those test questions came from prospective teacher tests. The first two questions are samples from the Praxis I test for teachers, and the third is from the 1999 teacher certification test in Illinois. According to the Chicago Sun-Times (9/6/01), 5,243 Illinois teachers failed their teacher certification tests. The Chicago Sun-Times also reported, "One teacher failed 24 of 25 teacher tests – including 11 of 12 Basic Skills tests and all 12 tests on teaching learning-disabled children." Yet that teacher was assigned to teach learning-disabled children in Chicago. Departments of education have solved the problem of teacher test failure. According to a New York Post story (11/14/11) titled "City teacher tests turn into E-ZPass," more than 99 percent of teachers pass.

Now, I’ve noted before that aptitude tests are both subjective and highly limited however.  In spite of this, they are often useful, particularly when attempting to measure working knowledge.  Teachers should have plenty of working knowledge about basic education subjects, particularly the one they’re attempting to teach.  If they don’t, then they should not be considered as qualified for the job to which they are applying.

By this metric, a good number of teachers are not qualified to teach any subject, let alone the one they are alleged to specialize in.  Also, if you’re considering homeschooling your children, note that it is likely that you will be better qualified and able to teach your children than a good number of professional teachers.  In many ways, it’s hard to imagine you could do worse, especially since you have more latitude with discipline.


  1. Let's be fair. Learning disabled kids are called learning disabled for a reason. So it hardly matters who teaches them or how good they are at it. The only reason they are even in the public schools is that parents of learning disabled kids demanded fair treatment in getting the same government funded daycare that parents of normal kids were getting. Thus bagan the boom in teachers' colleges creating special education for special education, and the associated higher pay for teachers that have that degree. It was never tied to those kids getting anything out of it.

  2. @Prof. Hale- even being fair, there's still another 5242 teachers for which to account.

    Anyhow, you're right that special ed kids don't get anything out of the current system and its setup. It's unlikely that they ever could. But a long as the parents are happy, who cares?