WSJ Op-Ed — We Don’t Need More Teachers


I have a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal about how the solution to our education problems can’t be found by hiring more teachers.  We need quality over quantity, for which we will have to pay the teachers we do have more.  And more importantly, we need to substitute technology for labor in education like we have in almost every other industry to improve productivity.  But in public education we have been doing the reverse, hiring more, lower quality teachers and failing to develop and implement cost-effective technology.

I know all of this is well-worn territory, but given that both presidential candidates endorsed the idea of hiring more teachers the editors at the WSJ thought it was important to emphasize the point.

3 Responses to WSJ Op-Ed — We Don’t Need More Teachers

  1. Mike Cowan says:

    My class of 49 had 64 students, was taught by a nun. We all did well. Two PhDs – one fellowship to CALTECH -one judge. Annual state achievement tests were unannounced – at least I never knew in advance. At the age of 77, the writer amuses himself reading about advances in astrophysics and cosmology and building an autopilot for a small RC airrcraft. !0 years of mentoring in public schools left me sick at heart for children that would never rise to their God given abilities The children rule the classroom.
    Mike Cowan – Kirkwood MO.

    • As a teacher for more than 40 years, I was glad to see your article, I have taught K-12 classes, some classes up to 45 students and understand that class size is challenging but not impossible. Unfortunately under NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND teachers are no longer free to inspire students to greater heights as THEY MUST focus on teaching to the test. Creativity is out the door. Many of the brightest students are counted as drop outs, because they are bored with the repitition. Teachers throughout the country want the federal government out of the schools. When I was in administration I took School Law at the U of Ark, where we were taught that each state has the responsibility for it’s schools in their state constitution. This not in the federral constitution. We need to get it back to that again. I was pleased to see President Clinton during his visit to LR call for more emphasis on CREATIVITY. Dr. Martin Greer Gateway, AR

      • Michael Cowan says:

        Prof. Greer – From the notebook of an aerospace Systems Engineer. So many facets to the problem. Education in the 30s/ 40s was part of in integrated system used by both parochial and public schools. Consder an education of a child as a manufacturing process – student is the product Production began with literate parents including immigrants who did not speak English but wanted their child to be educated at a high level. Next-home stimulation to read widely-creativity by making one’s own toys from parachutes up to radios and telegraph sets. Serious teachers backed by serious parents. Standardized real world cirriculum. Classrooms where children sat on chairs and order was expected. Books for all subjects. Geography from 3 to 8 was a favorite – maps–colorful, political, natural resource, geographic. full of symbols. Next step – achievement – posting graded papers for the parents, IQ test and analogies. What fun. A 3rd grade child of mine in an upper scale suburb (Chesterfield) had only two books Social science (Calif) and Science- all else to be taught from daily experience while sitting on the floor. Defined admission exams for higher education. If this system had evolved rather than been replaced in 58 we would have supurb students. Feynman (my physics teacher) was called to Sacramento to advise on the new 58 approach – he returned 6 weeks later shaking his head, A 7 yr old great-great niece was bored in first grade. Teacher assigned a book report. She did two, one on the Diary of Anne Frank and the other on Hellen Koeller. Asked me to help her make raised Braille symbols. Her young mother raised her on the 40s process. Creativity. Seems to fall back on art. Wish you could see the photos of my childrens’ OASIS projects. 3ft scale model of the ARCH (had to be gold (little polish orphan) motors paper trebuchets that throw grapes 30 feet, airplanes, crystal radios etc. The current production activity is not a process – nor is it a system, By the teachers’ own complaints it is an amorphous, “flavor of the day process” With astonishment I note that sports and band are still taught by the 40s way only much more intense – go figure. All I ever accomplished was to throw a few starfish back in the ocean but it is a satisfaction I will take to the grave.

        All life is a test. We can be taught in public school or in the school of hard knocks and end on welfare. No exceptions.

        Prayers for your success – Mike

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