It is a rather sadistic beginning to Teach Appreciation Week.
Charles Davenport Jr., an Editorial Board Member for the N&R, might have penned one of the most blatantly ignorant op-eds in recent memory when he made a claim that NC teachers were probably paid enough if not too much because “as far as academic rigor is concerned, education majors are not even in the same league with engineers, lawyers and scientists” (http://www.greensboro.com/opinion/columns/charles-davenport-jr-do-teachers-in-north-carolina-really-need/article_249db8a6-d712-565d-807b-3bbd1e3ecdbe.html).
I am no rocket scientist, and I am certainly not a lawyer like Phil Berger or Tim Moore or the many other lawmakers who happen to have law degrees who have crafted the very mandates that attack teachers now.
But I do know this: Davenport is so misinformed that the N&R might want to consider not publishing him.
First, Davenport makes claims that education majors are of a lower rung than other college students.
Richard Vedder, an economics professor at Ohio University and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote a devastating essay on the subject for The Fiscal Times. “At many large universities with an undergraduate college of education,” Vedder writes, “the education school is regarded by students and faculty alike as the weak link, sometimes something of an embarrassment.”
Interestingly enough, many teachers like myself and many others didn’t major in education. Our certification was an add-on or was a minor or was through another program. Also, the American Enterprise Institute is a conservative think tank. It has a political bias that fits with the current “reformist” attitude alive in Raleigh today.
Davenport also makes this claim:
They are “far less competent academically (based on SAT scores or high school grades) than,” for instance, “physicists or economists.” These “relatively weak students are given a non-rigorous course of study.” They “earn very high grades” only because of grade inflation in schools of education.
If he truly believes that then I would dare him to address that in education classes at the universities in this state with schools of education. There is one right down the road at UNC-G. Maybe UNC-CH? Maybe App? Maybe even where I got my degrees – Wake Forest.
The there is this:
Consider the SAT math and verbal scores of college-bound high school seniors in 2014. Those who intended to major in agriculture had the lowest average score (473), but education majors fared only slightly better (482).
For the sake of comparison, near the top of the list were students majoring in engineering (553), physical sciences (571) and math (574). In short, engineers and scientists are the academic elite; teachers are not.
Davenport is quoting Jonathan Wai’s column “Your college major is a pretty good indication of how smart you are” (https://qz.com/334926/your-college-major-is-a-pretty-good-indication-of-how-smart-you-are/). This is the same Jonathan Wai who also wrote an article called “Finding the Next Einstein: Why Smart is Relative” for the Creativity Post.
So is smart relative or what?
But ironically, barely over 4.0% of people going into college stipulate that they want to major in education.
It’s true across the United States, too. In a 2016 national survey of college freshmen, the number of students who say they will major in education has reached its lowest point in 45 years. Just 4.2 percent intend to major in education—a typical first step to becoming a teacher—compared to 11 percent in 2000; 10 percent in 1990; and 11 percent in 1971, according to data gathered by the UCLA’s Cooperative Institutional Research Program (http://neatoday.org/2016/03/15/future-teachers-at-all-time-low/).
Looking at those numbers and considering that students change majors quite often and that most counties have the public education system as the number one or two employer, to say that a questionnaire on what might one major in is the best barometer of potential teachers in North Carolina is weak.
Like Davenport’s op-ed.
And the number of teachers like myself who entered teaching after working in other fields is quite high.
Then there is this:
In North Carolina, the average is approximately $50,000 (for about nine months’ worth of work). Income-oriented college students would be wise to abandon education, and major in an academic area.
Davenport might want to really investigate that “9 months” thing. Just ask any coach, sponsor, or administrator. And people who enter teaching tend not to be income-oriented. They would like to have a competitive wage on a national scale.
Funny how Davenport makes reference to teacher compensation like he is an expert.
Teacher pay is not classified information. Anyone with access to the internet can look up teacher compensation.
It would be nice if he went to that non-classified information and explained how the current pay schedule can sustain an average of over $50,000 in salary when the top salary for an incoming teacher now is barely over $50,000. Maybe he could consult one of those economists.
But it is the rationale that teachers are not teaching students enough because of NAEP exam scores. If he took the time to dissect the scores between urban/suburban, LEA/English speakers, Free reduced / affluent, Black/White/Hispanic, and Special needs / typical students then he would find a much more staggering pattern.
That pattern is that poverty and lack of resources affect students to an alarming rate.
But of course, Davenport wouldn’t admit to that; it would mean that we would have to defend not raising per pupil expenditures in North Carolina.
And we see how well he argues.
Oh, by the way, most high school teachers who have those students who take the NAEP exam did not major in education. They majored in their academic field and got a certificate to teach in the process.
And lastly, I would want to let Davenport know that I am marching with Todd Warren. I know him. He’s not belligerent. He’s passionate about public education.