Editorial: Teaching comes under fire

Apr. 06, 2013 @ 02:15 AM

You might begin to get the impression that the real purpose of education reform as it’s being promoted in Raleigh nowadays is to do what New Orleans did: Eliminate the entire system and start over from scratch.

In New Orleans, of course, the heavy lifting was done by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, flooding the city and sending all the children somewhere else while the new way of doing things was built.

In North Carolina, they’re trying to do it by starving the system to death while shifting funds to a new, publicly funded but privately run system that operates under different rules and with less accountability.

In many ways one of the most egregious of the proposed changes is one under Senate Bill 337 that would remove requirements for charter schools to hire not only certified teachers but even teachers who have a college degree of any kind.

The implication seems to be that there is nothing more to teaching than knowing your subject and talking about it.

But we are not talking about work apprenticeships here, one experienced adult imparting his accumulated wisdom to a young adult with a fervent interest in the field.

We are talking about adults standing alone in front of a room full of children, with the variety of family cultures, individual interests and attention spans that entails.

Teaching is not a lark. It is not a casual interest. The body of knowledge involved in becoming a teacher is described by its own word, pedagogy, “the art, science, or profession of teaching.” The National Education Association – the “teachers union” bogeyman that gets thrown around to imply cronyistic protection of incompetent teachers – did not invent that term.

You should no sooner walk into a classroom without professional preparation and commit to a year of working there than you should walk into a hospital operating room without training and start slicing patients open. You may not kill anyone in a classroom, but you could screw up some kids for years.

If you have a teacher in the family, you know that the person in the classroom who has to do the most homework is the one assigning it.

North Carolina’s legislators have quite a bit of unattended homework themselves if they believe otherwise.