This last summer the NYS Board of Regents appointed a new Commission of Education, Dr. David Milton Steiner. Below is a quote from Dr. Steiner in re to the topic of my Sept. 9 blog.
“New York has consistently led the nation in raising academic standards, and it may well be time to do it again,” Steiner said.
He also targeted the state’s 92% average passing rate on a teacher certification test, which state schools chancellor Merryl Tisch highlighted in a recent Daily News op/ed. “Now, we have extraordinary teachers in New York, don’t misunderstand me,” he said. “Nevertheless, it seems to me that a gateway certification test that has that high a pass rate should give us pause, and we need to take a look at that.”
Sounds like more of “same old, same old”.
Of course Dr. Steiner comes with impeccable credentials.
First he was, primarily, raised in Great Britain where he went to private school excepting for one year when he attended PS41 in NYC. Therefore he never had to put up with bullies trying to steal his lunch money or unruly classmates that required his teachers’ attention thus taking away from classroom instruction time. (Unless, of course it was Hogworth’s in which case he will need all the magic he can muster.) He then graduated with his BA and MA in philosophy, politics and economics from Balliol College at Oxford University and finished up by getting his PHD in political science from Harvard University. All of which certainly qualified him for absolutely nothing but further work in academia and allowed him the credentials to apply for grants. Additionally, like all academics, he published a few books to survive in the hallowed halls.
Then from 1999 to 2004 Dr. Steiner was a professor at Boston University’s School of Education where he taught in the Department of Administration, Training and Policy Studies and the Department of Curriculum and Teaching. I wonder how many of his students were forced to take his courses in order to graduate, how closely he had to hew to curriculum set forth by an outside agency, how long he spent creating lesson plans, writing and correcting tests, and explaining his grading to parents? He then moved to Hunter College where his main concern seems to have been in teaching prospective teachers to teach. I assume these were not any of the 8% that failed the teacher certification test.
(This latter position seems to have been one of the strong points in gaining him the Commissioner’s job since Steiner developed a curriculum at Hunter from 2005 to 2008 that supposedly improved teacher training. Inasmuch as it takes at least 5 years for a new teacher to “prove out” I would be interested to see if this methodology actually holds up and how many of those trained by it are, in fact, good teachers. Since education innovation takes time to work or not, only time will tell whether this experiment is a real breakthrough or just another of those failed novelties dreamed up in the Ivory Tower of academia. Likewise, this “experiment” was, like most of done in the field of education, hardly scientific in that there were no control groups or blind testing.)
My main point is this: Steiner is just one of a long line of educational administrators who are in charge of NYS education and have never spent an iota of time in the classroom. Or, if they have, have been either unhappy in their role of teacher or dismissed from their position. As such they and their ilk have absolutely no idea what is it like to teach. Nor do they realize the problems that teachers have to overcome; from poor parental support, apathy on the part of students, and asinine administrative directives just to being to impart knowledge to their students. Until those in charge of education realize that they need input from teachers in the field, the system will flounder and only succeed in spite of the people at the top, not because of them.