Thursday, March 31, 2005

Harder than Heart Surgery? One Bad anti-NCLB Argument

Harder than Heart Surgery? I am currently working on a doctorate part-time in educational administration. I have learned a lot from the students and faculty in the program. As is typical in higher education, the faculty seem to be overwhelming liberal in their viewpoints. This is fine (I am used to it) but occasionally they cross the line and push their views inappropriately in class.

This is the case this semester. I am happy with the course. The professor is a great guy and I have taken a lot of good information from his teaching. However, he tends to get into these strange rants that have no connection to the topic at hand sometimes. For example, he went off on a tangent about sex claiming that "people ought to be able to do whatever they want sexually and it is none of the governments business." (I guess that would make child molestation, rape, and polygamy legal...) He also claimed when preaching about the Iraq war that, "Democracy has never been achieved by guns and bullets." (Wrong again. Both Japan and Germany were defeated in World War Two with guns and bullets and the democracy imposed on them by the allies continues successfully to this day.)

I normally don't respond. What is the point? However, he went into an anti-Bush tear at the last class attacking the No Child Left Behind Act. His main contention was that is was unfair to hold teachers accountable for the failings of their students as many student come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I had to respond to this. So I did it by analogy. I said, "Is it fair to hold heart surgeons accountable for their success rate at the operating table? After all, the patients have had unhealthy life styles and didn't take care of themselves. Many of them are bound to die. Would you go to a heart surgeon who failed most of the time if he rationalized it by blaming the problem on the patients? If not, why should we be expected to send students to schools that have teachers who blame their instructional failures on the students? Both heart surgeons and teachers should be held accountable for their success and failings."

His response was less than brilliant. He retorted, "Heart surgery is like being an automobile mechanic. It is not as complicated as teaching." This brought howls of laughter from the class as we all realized how crazy his response was. He promptly moved off that rant and got back to what he should have been doing all along which was teaching about the subject matter of the class.

I realize there are valid arguments against the No Child Left Behind Act. However, claiming that heart surgery is easier than teaching is not one of them.... :]

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