Saturday, December 05, 2015

Washington Post has big story on unlicensed substitute teachers,especially in poor districts; also, politics of teaching math


The Washington Post has a welcome front-page story Saturday “Substitutes as part of education’s problem: pupils in high-poverty schools fall behind for lack of qualified teachers”, by Emma Brown, link here.

The article points out that up to 27 states, including Virginia and Maryland (I think DC) don’t require substitutes to have teaching licenses.  (Minnesota does require it.)

Sometimes the media interests have glorified the world of a substitute teacher, as with a rather silly TV commercial for cold decongestants that I can recall.

In my own experience from 2004-2007, which I have written about here before, discipline for low-income students in middle school (less frequently in high school but there was at least one serious incident in October 2005) was a problem.  Some students, not from a “middle class background” and parents who taught those values and lacking self-direction, needed a kind of personal attention that I, a non-parent, was not prepared to give them.  The whole experience had been unprecedented in my own life.  The problem was more pronounced with minorities (especially some non-English-speaking origins).  It was particularly true with special education (which I could not “get out of” easily).  Sometimes students were falsely patronizing toward me, or wanted me to make them feel “all right”.

I’ll also note a recent NYTimes story, “The Politics of Math Education”, by Christopher L. Phillips, link here. Note the paradigm of leaning mathematics as “learning to reason”.  Why is that controversial?


Update: Dec, 9, 2015

I have a Letter to the Editor on this matter published in the Washington Post, page A16, today, Wednesday, link.  It appears to be the only letter on this article so far.

Update: Dec, 10, 2015

The New York Times has a piece by David L. Kirp, "Why the new education law is good for children left behind", here,

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