October 10, 2007
In 2005-06, a significantly higher percentage of white teacher candidates in Massachusetts passed the required Communications and Literacy Skills exam than their black and Hispanic counterparts. The state's Educational Personnel Advisory Council--a tasty morsel of bureaucratese, that--has been asked to determine whether this gap reflects bias in the test. But common sense and Charles Glenn, who writes in the Boston Globe, tell us that the scores are simply the result of the education system itself, one that exhibits similar racial disparities in student achievement. If the k-12 (and postsecondary) system does a poor job of educating poor and minority students, why does it surprise us when they perform poorly on subsequent exams? Furthermore, everybody knows that there's a link between teachers' performance on tests such as this one and the future achievement of their pupils. Lest you think, however, that the exam itself is above blame, consider this: according to Glenn, ed school dean at Boston University, the exam tests for high school-level skills. Don't you think, dear Massachusetts legislator, that teachers should be at least a little more qualified than the students they're teaching?
"High standards for teachers," by Charles Glenn, Boston Globe, October 6, 2007