Jun 15, 2011 Herm Card Uncategorized
Herm Card is a former teacher with more than 32 years of classroom experience and 20 years as a professional development consultant. His column appears bi-weekly in The Eagle. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Board of Regents was established in 1784 and is the oldest, continuous state education entity in the United States. Regents are responsible for the general supervision of all educational activities within the state, presiding over the State University of New York and the New York State Education Department,” (regents.nysed.gov/members).
The state legislature appoints the 17 Regents, one from each of the state’s 13 judicial districts and four members-at-large, to five-year terms. They are unsalaried, reimbursed only for travel and expenses related to their official duties.
They are truly talented individuals, men and women of accomplishment. They donate their time and effort for the good of our state. They are business and government leaders, doctors, lawyers, scientists, professors and humanitarians with accomplishments far too numerous to recount here.
But, almost hidden on their extensive resumes – pardon me – curricula vitae, is the fact that only five of the 17 people most responsible for administering the education of over 2.7 million students (540,000 per Regent) have taught in the public schools.
The Regents themselves are talented and well meaning, not to be condemned for their individual efforts. It is the Board of Regents system that needs to be condemned for its inefficiency and failure to adapt to the facts of life of public education – that education should be in the hands of educators.
Studying education, writing about education, obtaining degrees in higher education, teaching at the college level and beyond are automatic qualifiers as experts in education.
State legislators are qualified to recognize the qualities required to adequately administer the huge and often unwieldy education system in New York. (It is interesting to note that the Regents are appointed to represent judicial districts, rather than say, BOCES districts that directly relate to education.)
Tinkering with standards, increasing assessment testing, and continually adjusting the increasingly vague definition of “competence” is the best way to rectify decades of ineffective administration.
Ignoring the vastly divergent demographics of New York’s student population in order to create a “level playing field” (read: make it easier to put scores on a graph) gives a true measure of student AND teacher accomplishment.
Spending millions of New York dollars in California and North Carolina to have tests produced and results evaluated is a far more efficient use of our money that directing it to the school districts where the education should be taking place and money is lacking.
So, comparing fact and fiction, the weight of the evidence points out that the trouble we are in cannot be blamed exclusively on incompetent teachers, unmotivated students and ineffective local administrators as most government agencies, including the New York State Education Department, would have us believe.
The NYSED’s quest for documenting achievement ignores the basic fact that educational success is not measurable on the spot – it is measurable only in the long term – not on a graph but in the reality of our society. The Board of Regents and SED, so consumed by testing and measuring, might do well to pay attention to the old farmers’ adage that “We don’t fatten up our cattle by weighing them.”
For more on this, in far greater detail, here are two vastly contrasting websites: New York State United Teachers, nysut.org/nysutunited.htm, and the New York State Education Department’s site, nysed.gov.