Making the failing educational system worse

Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Almost all of our societal angst about education concentrates on students who do not wish to learn. Consider: can we force students to learn? Imagine if cattle prods were used. “What is the capital of South Dakota?” Wrong. Zap. That might work in the short term, but they will be flinchy about learning forever. And, there would be that messy business about human rights.
     The second problem is the effect over the last thirty years of the rapidly expanding administration. In the 1960s there were few administrators. How did they know if teachers were good? The principal walked into classes and talked with parents and students. The principal knew who was good and who needed help.
     We no longer trust principals to administer, they instead coordinate legions of experts who spend their time trying to find things to justify their employment. Most teachers would really like the bloated administration to leave them alone to teach since that is their role.
     Teachers say the administrative experts who cannot themselves teach assume all teachers are the same and all students are the same. They want each teacher to listen to them rather than concentrating on educating students. There has been a tsunami of accountability tests in the last twenty years that trump real teaching.
     Everyone now spends almost all of their time in concern for the administrative tests rather than student learning. What the students need is to quit spending the entire year getting ready for the teacher accountability tests and just spend it learning.
     An example of goofy experts: a teacher was called to a meeting with an expert who said, “Do not use the SF basal readers.” The teacher shrugged, “OK, do you have a different basal for me to use?”
     “No,” the expert said.
     “But you want me to use a basal as I teach reading?” the teacher asked.
     “Of course,” The expert answered, “Just do not use the SF basal you are using right now.”
     No wonder teachers cringe when the experts show up. They are overwhelmed with well-paid experts who cannot hit water from a boat. They know that politically every student in America must be above average or there will be hell to pay. Read column

Legislators hope to debate remaining gun bill

From - by Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Time is running short in New Mexico's 60 day legislative session, with the only surviving gun control bill still awaiting a hearing in a Senate committee. That committee, Senate Judiciary, is swamped with bills. Hundreds will die when the session ends at noon on Saturday. Gun control could be one of them.
     The bill already passed in the House of Representatives. It would require background checks on people who buy guns at gun shows, just like they do at gun stores. Gun control supporters worry that it's stuck in that committee with time running out. One supporter who's not worried is Rep. Brian Egolf, a Santa Fe Democrat.
      "From the outside it looks like there's only three days left," Egolf said. "It may look to people outside the building like there's not much time left, but in the final days of a legislative session three days is an eternity. I am confident."
     But on the other side a lot of pro-gun people worry the bill might get un-stuck! Republican Bill Rehm, a retired cop, says the bill is unenforceable. "It's easy to get around it," Rehm said. "If I'm an individual who's at a gun show and I'm selling a gun to you, all I have to do is tell you to meet me in the parking lot and now we're around it. That's why I say this kind of legislation has to come at the federal level so it affects globally where we are."
     When the Senate Judiciary Committee does schedule a hearing, it's likely to jam the Capitol with people who want to testify, just like every other gun control hearing this session. That could mean a marathon meeting, devouring up precious hours while the legislative clock ticks away toward the Saturday deadline. Read more