Wrong, wrong, wrong, Mr. President

We are
obligated to respect the office of President of the United States but nobody needs to
agree with what the occupant of that office says. And Barack Obama could not
have been more wrong in his mid-day
remarks
yesterday to the nation's governors on the subject of school
teachers.

Barack Obama
The President could not have been more wrong in his remarks yesterday to the nation's governors on the subject of school teachers.
Photo by jamesomalley.

In perhaps his
most vivid example yet of election-year pandering to the teacher unions that
comprise a non-trivial part of the Democratic Party's "base," he
rattled on at considerable length about the need to "get more teachers
into our classrooms."

MORE teachers.
Not better teachers. Not teachers that add greater value to their students and
make their schools more effective. Not teachers who know their subject matter.
Not more pay and greater professional opportunities for outstanding teachers.
Just plain MORE TEACHERS, supported with more money from federal and state
budgets.

Don't ask
whether that's the best possible use of scarce education dollars in a time of
reduced revenue and perilous debt. Just spend more on more teachers.

Almost
everybody who has paid any attention to education policy or finance by now
knows that the student:teacher ratio in U.S. schools went from 27:1 in the
1950's to 14:1 today as a result of our habit of hiring MORE TEACHERS and
devoting every available education dollar to that pursuit. Just about everyone
knows that has meant essentially flat teacher salaries—and the hiring of
hundreds of thousands of people who are, to put it kindly, not the sharpest
knives in their drawers. Just about everyone knows that effective teachers make
an enormous, positive difference in children's lives—and that ineffective
instructors all but doom their pupils to educational failure.

Think about it. Would you rather have a child you care about in a class
of 28 with a highly effective teacher or a class of 23 with a mediocre teacher?
Following the President's advice is a recipe for the latter.

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