Questioning A Teaching Report

On the surface, it seems to me that everyone wants to hand out grades to those who teach teachers how to teach. This includes certain politicians who are insisting they want to come up with a better way to evaluate teachers by using input from students. Standing on the sidelines are teachers’ union leaders wanting input to the process to make sure it is fair and correct.

It’s interesting to note that ex-UH president M.R.C. Greenwood evaluated her efforts and gave herself an A-plus. Nobody objected to her grade, but she resigned anyway, and now she will have tenure and a position at the UH Medical School after a refreshing sabbatical.

In the midst of all this discussion, our public school teachers are getting battered by outsiders, namely U.S. World Report, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and a report by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), which said, “Hawaii’s elementary and high school teaching degree programs are among the worst in the country when it comes to preparing new teachers for the classroom.” This council brags about being an advocate for tougher teacher standards and evaluations.

UH dean Donald Young and Joe Peters, dean of Chaminade University’s Education Division, say they were disappointed at the findings and were looking forward to studying the NCTQ report to see how they can improve. Both deans defended the quality of their programs and graduates.

It is my opinion that the deans did the right thing by accepting the report as a learning tool and defending their programs. Too often the programs in Hawaii are attacked by outside organizations with dubious interest in how we do things in Hawaii.

These poorly worded reports from faraway places do little to improve the morale of our teaching professionals. It takes a lot of effort to become a teacher, and keeping up with the never-ending body of knowledge is both time-consuming and expensive.

It’s just possible that, for a real impact on the preparation of teachers, they take a page out of Greenwood’s chronicle and let the teachers grade themselves and judge how they are managed.