The teacher shortage is unprecedented

Despite outcries that teachers are overpaid because of their short day in the classroom and long summer vacation, school districts nationwide can’t find enough certified teachers to fill openings (“Schools Are Looking in Unusual Places to Deal With Teacher Shortage,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 17).  If teaching is such a plum, why is that the case?

When I retired in 1992 after 28 years teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I did so because I was burned out by the lack of respect accorded teachers and the low salaries.  Since then these two conditions remain to discourage college grads from becoming certified.  But the matter has been exacerbated by pressure to teach the woke curriculum.

That is in my mind the last straw.  Whatever pride teachers once had has been stripped away because they no longer are in charge of what to teach.

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Med school curriculum is politicized

Once known for their rigor, medical schools in this country have been infected by the priori claim that they are racist (“The Corruption of Medicine,” City Journal, Summer 2002). As a result, politics rather than science now characterizes the curriculum.

It’s seen in the movement to abolish the MCAT because Blacks med students do not perform as well on the test as whites.  In fact, anything that has the possibility of reducing the gap between the academic performance of whites and Asians on one hand and Blacks and Hispanics on the other is under serious consideration.

 I wonder what the ultimate consequences will be in health care after these changes become reality. 

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No ideological diversity in higher education

Higher education’s mantra is diversity. But that means only racial diversity – not ideological (“Students in Supreme Court’s Harvard discrimination case,” New York Post, Aug. 3).

Ever since Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, colleges have been allowed to use race as one of many factors in granting admission to applicants.  However, in reality they have used the high court’s decision to establish illegal racial quotas. That’s why Asian applicants have been discriminated against. 

I believe that admission to colleges and universities should be based primarily on merit.  If that results in Asians or any other racial group predominating, so be it. 

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Politicizing medical education

Medical school is no longer where future doctors learn the hard sciences (“Medical Education Goes Woke,” The Wall Street Journal, Jul. 27).  Instead, they are being forced to develop “diversity, equity and inclusion competencies.”

I don’t know about you, but I hope doctors first and foremost know about disease and how to successfully treat it.  That should go for minorities in particular who have received worse care in the past.

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Student debt is not inevitable

Of the 45 million Americans who hold student debt, one in five is over 50 years old (“The Aging Student Debtors Of America,” The New Yorker, Jul. 27).  I wonder if they regret the choices they made.

I’ve long believed that pursuing a vocational curriculum in high school and an apprenticeship are a far better option for most young people.  They would avoid going into debt and would learn a skill making them immediately employable.  Anyone doubting that has not needed a plumber on a Sunday evening.

The truth is that college is merely the most convenient place to learn how to learn. It is not an absolute determinant. Unless a young person wants to become a doctor or a lawyer, for example, I see no advantage becoming a wage slave to pay off a student loan.

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Merit pay is unfair

North Carolina is instituting merit pay for all public-school teachers in place of experience-based pay (“The Merit Pay Zombie Rises Again in North Carolina,” the, Jul. 28). I understand why merit pay has such great intuitive appeal.  After all, why shouldn’t teachers be compensated for what their students learn.

The problem is that so much of a teacher’s effectiveness is the direct result of the students the teacher happens to be assigned.  If a teacher is given a class of Talmudic scholars, he or she is going to post outstanding results regardless of what is taught.  In contrast, if a teacher is given a class of future felons, he or she is going to flop.

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Arming teachers will backfire

Some 29 states now allow teachers to carry a gun on school grounds (“Trained, Armed and Ready. To Teach Kindergarten.” The New York Times, Jul. 31).  I understand the intent, but I maintain that it will create more problems than it solves.

I wonder how teachers with only 24 hours of training and eight hours of annual recertification will react when confronted by a shooter.  Let’s not forget that teachers’ No. 1 job is teaching their subject.  Asking them also to act as police is too heavy a responsibility.

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Homework has value

There’s a movement afoot to eliminate homework (“The Movement to End Homework Is Wrong,” The New York Times, Jul. 31).  It is said to exacerbate inequalities in students because it is linked to the socioeconomic status of students.

But there will always be differences in the backgrounds of students in public schools.  That’s no reason to abolish homework as long as it is not merely busywork.  If homework is properly assigned, it reinforces learning. So rather than intensify differences in the socioeconomic backgrounds of students, homework can actually make them more alike.

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College class size is often misleading

Colleges like to report student-faculty ratios as evidence of instructional quality (“Beyond Student-Faculty Ratios,” The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal,” Jul. 29).  But such data need to be taken with a grain of salt.

First, the data are based on an honor system.  There is no transparency. But in my opinion the greatest flaw is that even ideal ratios are no assurance of what students have learned.  Let’s not ever forget that teaching is the least important factor in granting tenure.

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Test-optional policies and affirmative action

Colleges are using test-optional admission as an end run around illegal affirmative action (“How colleges use SAT-optional applications to covertly impose affirmative action, New York Post, Jul. 22). It will no doubt increase the number of Black and Hispanic students on campus, but it is blatantly unfair.

Nevertheless, it will continue to be used because colleges are obsessed with racial diversity.  The Supreme Court made it clear in the Bakke case that quotas are illegal.  I see little difference between racial consideration and outright quotas because there will always be a certain percentage in the mind of admission officers.

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