Schools of Edukashun


Larry Sand’s article “No Wonder Johnny (Still) Can’t Read” written for The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, based in Raleigh, N.C. — blames schools of education for the decline in America’s education. Education professors drum into students that they should not “drill and kill” or be the “sage on the stage” but instead be the “guide on the side” who “facilitates student discovery.” This kind of harebrained thinking, coupled with multicultural nonsense, explains today’s education. During his teacher education, Sand says, “teachers-to-be were forced to learn about this ethnic group, that impoverished group, this sexually anomalous group, that under-represented group, etc. — all under the rubric of ‘Culturally Responsive Education.'”

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
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
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
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.

Textbooks used in schools of education advocate sheer nonsense. A passage in Enid Lee et al.’s Beyond Heroes and Holidays reads: “We cannot afford to become so bogged down in grammar and spelling that we forget the whole story. … The onslaught of antihuman practices that this nation and other nations are facing today: racism, and sexism, and the greed for money and human labor that disguises itself as ‘globalization.'” Marilyn Burns’ text About Teaching Mathematics reads, “There is no place for requiring students to practice tedious calculations that are more efficiently and accurately done by using calculators.” New Designs for Teaching and Learning, by Dennis Adams and Mary Hamm, says: “Content knowledge is not seen to be as important as possessing teaching skills and knowledge about the students being taught. … Successful teachers understand the outside context of community, personal abilities, and feelings, while they establish an inside context or environment conducive to learning.” That means it’s no problem if a teacher can’t figure out that a quarter-million is the same as 250,000. Harvey Daniels and Marilyn Bizar’s text Methods that Matter reads, “Students can no longer be viewed as cognitive living rooms into which the furniture of knowledge is moved in and arranged by teachers, and teachers cannot invariably act as subject-matter experts.” The authors add, “The main use of standardized tests in America is to justify the distribution of certain goodies to certain people.”

Schools of education represent the academic slums of most any college. American education can benefit from slum removal.



Walter E. Williams


Born in Philadelphia in 1936, Walter E. Williams holds a bachelor's degree in economics from California State University (1965) and a Master's degree (1967) and doctorate (1972) in economics from the University of California at Los Angeles. In 1980, he joined the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and is currently the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics. More than 150 of his publications have appeared in scholarly journals such as Economic Inquiry, American Economic Review and Social Science Quarterly and popular publications such as Reader's Digest, The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. He has made many TV and radio appearances on such programs as Milton Friedman's Free to Choose, William F. Buckley's Firing Line, Face The Nation, Nightline and Crossfire, and is an occasional substitute host for The Rush Limbaugh Show. He is also the author of several books. Among these are The State Against Blacks, later made into a television documentary, America: A Minority Viewpoint, All It Takes Is Guts, South Africa's War Against Capitalism, More Liberty Means Less Government, Liberty Versus The Tyranny of Socialism, and recently his autobiography, Up From The Projects.

  • Michael PS

    The more I hear about modern education, the more I admire the principles embodied in the Seven Liberal Arts of the Middle Ages.

    The Trivium (Grammer, Logic and Rhetoric) taught students to understand language and to use it effectively and the Quadrivium (Aritmetic, Geometry, Astronomy and Music) taught them to understand number – pure, extended, mobile and applied.

  • Pat Long

    I am appalled by the attitude in education today. Education is now big business run by managers that command 6 figue salaries. In the precollage grades it has become a dayscholl where many parents leave thier children (remeber you apy taxes or tuition for these schools so it is not free) and heaven forbid they should accuse your child of misbehaiving. my wife has been a sub for many years. She tried to educate young children but would come home depressed because 4th graders could not read, days when she just spent the day trying to outshout little Johnny because Mom forgot to give him his medication. Children get sent to the principles office and the teachers are put on the spot light for it. I agree that the teachers in many places are not up to par but the parents have delegated thier responsibilities also.
    I personally saw a major change in the elementary school where my son went. The behavior and the goals changed over they years. i told my wife to give up the substituting. She does not have to work. She did it for the kids and the school system But i was tired of the her crying over something she did not cause and cannot control. It iwll not change until the public, just like everything else, takes a stan.

    • Mark Higdon

      At the risk of sounding disrespectful (not intended), or maybe missing something, or maybe just acknowledging the obvious: Pat, you’re pulling our collective legs with this comment, as written, right?

  • Cherie Guelker

    I attended a School of Education decades ago and the attitudes that Walter Williams describes were already well entrenched, i.e., only teach grammar “as needed.” The instructor for the “Teaching Math” course focused exclusively on teaching math to primary grades. Also, she had taught only one semester and left the classroom. This was not uncommon. I have maintained ever since that Schools of Education were ruining education in the United States. I also believe that, rather than being union workers, teachers should be professionals, like doctors, with internships and residencies before they teach without regular supervision or regular consultations and review with a master teacher. Those who failed would not become fully certified teachers. But getting rid of Schools of Education or changing the current system are pipe dreams. The status quo is thoroughly entrenched and Schools of Education will continue to be, as they were even when I was a college student many, many years ago, where you go when you can’t pass any other course of study.

  • Mack Hall

    Okay, Mr. W., but did you vote in your last school board election?

    • Mark Higdon

      Voting in the elections of government school boards serves only to validate the government schools. I take pride in my long series of abstentions.