Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This may be the reason America's students are falling behind

our teachers weren't good students, according to Walter Williams (via Mark Perry):

Let's delve a bit, asking whether higher educational expenditures explain why secondary school students in 32 industrialized countries are better at math and science than ours. In 2004, the U.S. spent about $9,938 per secondary school student. More money might explain why Swiss and Norwegian students do better than ours because they, respectively, spent $12,176 and $11,109 per student. But what about Finland ($7,441) and South Korea ($6,761), which scored first and second in math literacy? What about the Slovak Republic ($2,744) and Hungary ($3,692), as well as other nations whose education expenditures are a fraction of ours and whose students have greater math and science literacy than ours?

American education will never be improved until we address one of the problems seen as too delicate to discuss. That problem is the overall quality of people teaching our children. Students who have chosen education as their major have the lowest SAT scores of any other major. Students who have graduated with an education degree earn lower scores than any other major on graduate school admissions tests such as the GRE, MCAT or LSAT. Schools of education, either graduate or undergraduate, represent the academic slums of most any university. As such, they are home to the least able students and professors with the lowest academic respect. Were we serious about efforts to improve public education, one of the first things we would do is eliminate schools of education.

UPDATE: Mark posts a chart here of 10 typical college majors, with education majors finishing last in the "power rankings". It also confirms my suspicion that undergraduate business majors are not that bright, either.

DISCLOSURE: I was an engineering major at Cornell, and am still bitter about all the extra work I had to do all while being graded to a B-/C+ bell curve. I was vindicated when 3.9 students--from Boston University and Cornell's School of Arts and Sciences--had to drop freshman engineering requisites because they could not hack them. I did marry an Arts grad in the end, but she outsources most of the math to me. And there were a lot more pretty co-eds in that school than mine.

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