SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The state of Illinois has wisely adopted a new, more difficult test for those hoping to secure teaching certificates.
The teachers unions have been complaining about it, because far fewer minority candidates have been passing the more difficult test.
Apparently the percentage of black candidates who pass the test has dropped from 60 to 17 percent, while the Hispanic rate has dropped from 70 to 22 percent.
The union whining is to be expected. Labor leaders have never come across a liberal cause they didn’t embrace, particularly when racial minority groups are the perceived victims. And they can always be counted on to side with adults when adult and student interests conflict.
But one blogger is questioning the role of the media in covering this controversy.
Alexander Russo, in his blog “This Week In Education,” notes that WBEZ, the National Public Radio affiliate in Chicago, recently ran a story about the new teacher tests, focusing “largely on the impact of the test on teacher diversity, and on the emotional plight of minority candidates who want to teach but can’t pass the test.
“There’s much less attention on the reality that the previous test was much too easy, that too many teachers lack basic reading, writing and math skills, or that (candidates) can take the test multiple times, or submit ACT or other scores, and that the WBEZ reporter who took the test appeared to have no problem passing it.
“For journalists and others, the fundamental question is whether our primary sympathies and concerns should rest with the teachers, individually or collectively, or with the students and the overall health of the institutions in which the teachers work.”
That question should be easy to answer. Schools exist to help kids learn, and any tool that helps keep bad teachers out of the classroom should be viewed in a positive light.
Liberals argue that it’s important to have minority teachers in schools with large minority populations. That may be so. But it’s even more important for minority children to have teachers who can actually teach them something.
The achievement gap between white and minority students will never shrink unless all kids have the best possible instructors in their classrooms.
As Chicago teacher Ray Salazar was quoted as saying in the blog, “Do we need teachers who look like our students? Only if they know their content, only if they can teach and engage students, only if they have the social skills to maneuver through class and generational differences, only if they’re focused on students and not themselves.
“Being brown and college degreed and passionate is not enough.”
By Steve Gunn at EAGnews.org