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Bill Ayers Set to Retire, Student Test Scores Expected to Rise

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Posted on August 12 2010 7:00 pm
Norbert Michel is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Nicholls State University in Louisiana. Michel has a PhD in Financial Economics from the University of New Orleans, and he teaches statistics, economics, and finance courses. Visit Michel's blog at http://crimethinkerblog.blogspot.com/

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Ayers’ “academic contributions” consist of books filled with his opinions, imaginary dialogue between himself and dead people, and other writers’ poetry.  (Some people might suggest we include Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father, and it does have just as much academic value.)  While he did start the Small Schools Workshop, a group with a mission to improve schools through smaller student bodies, it’s pretty clear that this initiative is linked with Ayer’s political beliefs.

Some of this might be forgivable if treating teaching as a “political enterprise” actually improved schools.  But the evidence (so far) shows that the Small Schools initiative has done nothing to improve students’ test scores.  Of course, that’s OK with Ayers, who doesn’t believe in standardized tests.

What about other areas of school reform?  Can we at least say that Chicago’s public schools have become more humane, or even safer?  He’s had more than 20 years to make a difference.  Has anything improved?

Not according to 15 year old Kayla Brent, a sophomore at Marshall High School.  According to Brent, her school is besieged with daily gang fights that have “reduced teachers to little more than security officers.”  Given his preoccupation with death and revolution, Ayers probably applauds this situation.  He even once wrote that teachers “too often start with an unhealthy obsession with classroom management.”

For anyone who might be thinking it’s dangerous to have someone like Ayers teaching our teachers how to teach, you’re judging him against the wrong standard.  See, Ayers is a master at progressive teaching.  Never heard of that one?  Three of the main tenets are:

  1. teaching is not “…primarily about passing on predetermined knowledge to students,”
  2. “… the classroom should provide an environment of freedom in which the students’ expressed interests and impulses give direction to the classroom activities,” and
  3. “…the traditional teacher’s role of guidance, control and direction should be reduced so as to be almost nonexistent.”

It’s one thing that Ayers could have risen to such a position of influence over future teachers.  But it’s even worse that college administrators – such as his own Dean of the College of Education – place any sort of value on what people like Ayers are trying to do.  I’m starting to think a professional change, perhaps as a football coach, might not be such a bad idea.  You can still judge success based on wins and losses.  For now.

You can read more from Norbert Michel at the wildly popular Crimethinker blog.

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