Schools of Education: The Academic Slums

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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 or 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 or 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 or 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.

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  • cheese_burger

    Waa choo meen, toopid??? me no toopid!!!
    Me tmart!!! me am teechur!!! :)

    • intrcptr2

      And I can has cheezeburger, after all your base are ours…

  • Lady_Dr

    At Ohio State University the 'College of Education' is referred to as the 'intellectual sewer'. But as one colleague always said "they do nice bulletin boards.'

    Thanks Dr. Williams.

  • Guest

    I am a Chicago Public High School Teacher (second career), and I can attest that there are some teachers as described in the article, but most of my fellow teachers are well educated, and well meaning.

    Mr. Williams is right about the education departments. When I went through my certification program, not one of the courses I had to take was relevant to teaching.

    One of my pet ideas is that every member of every education department of every college or university must take a sabbatical every five years and teach in an inner city school. Too many of our education instructors have never (or not for a long time) been in a typical inner city classroom. Their pedogical ideas do not work in the real world.

    • Blaze Pascal

      The Faculty of Education needs to be abolished. All teachers should have a legit Arts degree and a !!one year apprenticeship.

  • guest


    Even though we really want the best teachers possible, a mediocre teacher can get the basics across to students if the students are willing to learn. I have students that come tardy, if at all, do not do class assignments or homework, and feel that ocassional attendance is sufficient to pass the course.

    High schools will not improve until we improve the quality of students we receive. I'm not talking about intelligence, but attitude, both from students and the school boards. Why do I have 10th and 11th grade students with 4th and 5th math and reading levels ? How am I supposed to teach them what they need to know if they cannot comprehend the text books?

    I'm not really blaming the students, but the parents. Johnnie's parents may not know algebra, but they can know whether he does his homework. They can make sure that the teachers have a way to contact them. They can make sure that the students arrive at school on time and prepared. The parents should know that a $1.00 pen has a higher priority than a smartphone, MP3 player, or $150.00 sneakers.

  • CurmudgyOne

    I completely agree: It's the parents' responsibility to be the kids' first teachers. The problem that brings up is that the parents-as-teachers model assumes that parents know how to be parents, not facilitators of the child "going along to get along." Good education must start at home, with an attitude that fosters the process of learning. And it must continue with parents putting pressure on school boards, administrators and teachers to perform.

  • Robert A. Hall

    I know a chemist who lost his long-term job after his company was bought. So he went back and got a certificate to teach chemistry. He was hired by an inner-city school to teach mostly black kids, and he’s white. Being new to the game, and remembering his own high school days, he expected the kids to do at least some work. When they did none at all, he failed 47 of them. The parents complained. He was fired for being “racially insensitive.” That is, for expecting that black kids should have to earn their grades equally with white or Asian kids. The kids will eventually “graduate,” knowing very little and thinking that they deserve everything without work. This will make them unemployable dependents of the welfare state, locked on the plantation, voting as told to keep the unearned benefits flowing. The teachers loses, the kids lose big time, with no route out of poverty, and the tax-payers lose. But the statist politicians win.

    Robert A. Hall
    Author: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
    All royalties go to help wounded veterans
    For a free PDF of my book, write tartanmarine(at)

    • Jim_C

      Your friend failed–failed to recognize he was not in a situation with white and Asian kids and that he would have to adapt. Couldn't accept the situation he was in, didn't have what it takes to stick it out, and took a petulant "stand on principle." It happens. Not everyone is cut out for teaching.

  • Robert A. Hall

    When I was at U-Mass, I majored in government, but took a minor in education in case I couldn’t get elected. (I did.) This was 70-72. The School of Education had been ruined by a progressive, and many schools wouldn’t look at their graduates. They had the worst, most empty courses I ever had to sit through. Plus all courses were pass fail, which meant that as a transfer student with a minor in education, I couldn’t get enough graded credits to graduate with honors,. Though my GPA was high enough. I will link to this from my Old Jarhead blog.

    Robert A. Hall
    Author: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
    All royalties go to help wounded veterans
    For a free PDF of my book, write tartanmarine(at)

  • DMW

    So on an industrial scale, we are moving unfinished people down an assembly line and delivering them — literally — to the dealers. Drug dealers.

  • mrbean

    The comprachios made mutilated monsters from helpless children, twisted monsters whose normal physical development had been twisted and stunted — and this still goes on all around us. But the modern heirs of the comprachicos are the progressive educators and they are smarter and subtler. They do not hide, they practice their vicious trade in the open, the results are invisible. In the past this horrible surgery left traces on a child's body, not in his mind. Today it leaves traces in his mind, not on his body. In both cases the child is not aware of the mutilation he has suffered. Today's comprachicos take a child before he is fully aware of reality and never let him develop that awareness. Where nature put a normal brain, they put mental retardation. To make you unconscious for life by means of your own brain, nothing could be more ingenious. They are the comprachicos of the mind. They do not place a child into a vase to adjust his body to its contours. They place him into a school to maladjust him to society."

  • Jim_C

    The commenters here who say the parents are to blame–that's 95% correct. You will never find a parent who claims to be a good parent who thinks "the teachers are to blame," because they understand what it takes to educate a child, they know their own role is vital, and they may even understand how a teacher does their job. There's a lot of fools out there who think that because they went to school, they know what a teacher does. And there's also a lot of people out there who can't cut it as a teacher because they want everything handed to them on a silver platter and don't think they should have to "stoop" to teaching kids the basics. I don't blame them; summers off are nice, but it's a tough job where you take a lot of sht from every direction.

    Unless the parents are paying for the school, the teachers don't get to pick who they get as students

    But this article is right: educating educators is a racket, a trend-driven boondoggle, and teachers survive in spite of, not because of it. If a person has a college education and is willing to teach? LET THEM TEACH. Show them how to put together a curriculum, what paperwork to fill out, and let them teach. Sure there should be observation and clinical, but get them into classrooms and quit wasting their time with 10 courses they don't need.

    And someone explain to me the purpose of the Dept. of Ed, again?

    • johnnywoods

      The Dept. of Education exists to benefit teachers unions and the govt. employees who "work" there. It certainly does nothing for "education".

  • TBranin

    Received my M.Ed. in 1971 from Temple University in Philadelphia. I see nothing has changed.

  • AWS

    Graduated with Seconday Social Studies Education degree in 1991 and the only valuable education course I had was the one that taught me how to use the mimeograph machine! (And the Xeorx machine soon made that training obsolete!)

  • FriendofGaryCooper

    Schools of education are in fact, academic slums. Mostly what students get these days in Schools of Ed, is a lot of pressure to take out a student loan. Content knowledge is mostly ignored; unless you happen to get an instructor who taught that subject. And while I agree that education begins with the parents; having a principal who is willing to exercise a fair degree of discipline helps a lot.

  • sedoanman

    The test didn't ask the relevant questions, like:

    If Ms. “A” has three illegitimate children and collects $410 per month in welfare, and Ms. “B” has four illegitimate children and collects $560 per month in welfare, what government agency should Ms. “A” contact?

    a. Unemployment office
    b. Legal Aid
    c. Planned Parenthood
    d. EEO