Saturday, January 30, 2010

'A Great Recession in Public Education'

Scott Mullin was the 2007-08 teacher of the year at The Language Academy. He is a current member of the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) Representative Council.

Guest Blogger: 'A Great Recession in Public Education'
January 28, 2010
Voice of San Diego

Guest blogger Scott Mullin grew up and attended public schools in San Diego County. He has been teaching for 17 years -- including two in Costa Rica -- and is now working in San Diego Unified schools. He holds degrees in anthropology and Latin American studies from San Diego State University. Mullin has two children attending public schools. These are his reflections, not mine, so if you have burning questions or comments, please contact Scott via email at

There is a darkening image of teachers that many in our society work hard to mint as the prevailing picture of those who labor daily to educate the young. It stands out in stark contrast to the image of teachers that I grew up with.

Our leaders have -- I suspect with self-serving ideological and financial motives -- intentionally sought to damage the respectful image we had of teachers. The formation of this gray cloud over public education goes back to 1983, when President Reagan published "A Nation at Risk."

...Instead of paying teachers based on education and experience, the self-described innovators hold merit pay to be a key solution. By dangling dollars before the teacher, creativity would flourish. Test scores would soar and achievement gaps disappear...


1 comment:

Maura Larkins said...


Maura Larkins

There are plenty of geniuses who are not good at teaching, as I learned as an undergraduate at UCSD in the late 60s. But there are some teachers who don't value thinking and learning, and they pass that attitude on to students. They teach kids to obey and to memorize and keep their mouths shut. We need to teach a different attitude if we are to have a thriving democracy and economy. There should be master teachers who come in and gives the students of mediocre teachers the support they need to develop thinking skills and a passion for learning. I think you might end up being one of the master teachers, Scott, if my plan for master teachers is ever implemented. I agree that SAT scores aren’t terribly important, but I think that thinking ability is terribly important.

Scott Mullin

Thank you for the information Maura. According to the report you provided data does support your contention. I'm not sure it all means that smart women don't choose teaching anymore. For one thing, our communities have to support many more teachers than doctors or lawyers. So, the teacher corps will most likely be a closer representation of the hoi polloi. Further, I'm not sure test results equate to greater intelligence. I never took the SAT. Where does that put me? I was not aware of it when I was in high school and ended up transferring from junior college to a four year college. SAT scores were not required. There is a class of people who know about tests and know about test prep. services. They tend to do better on tests than those who are new to the game. I agree with your assertion using the article you provided. It is interesting. Thanks.

Maura Larkins

Scott, here's the evidence you asked for.

In their hiring of teachers, do the nation's public schools get what they pay for?
By Virginia Postrel
The New York Times
March 25, 2004

...The best female students -- those whose test scores put them in the top 10 percent of their high school classes -- are much less likely to become teachers today.

''Whereas close to 20 percent of females in the top decile in 1964 chose teaching as a profession,'' making it their top choice, the economists write, ''only 3.7 percent of top decile females were teaching in 1992,'' making teachers about as common as lawyers in this group.

So the chances of getting a really smart teacher have gone down substantially. In 1964, more than one out of five young female teachers came from the top 10 percent of their high school classes. By 2000, that number had dropped to just over one in 10...

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