Saturday, November 05, 2016

Teacher-Quota System Flawed

The latest gaffe of the Fayette Public School System, already dodging landmines for the last few years, is its insistence that it must do more to entice black and Latino teachers (Herald-Leader 31 October), their ethnicity apparently trumping their ability/experience. Caveat Alert: Notwithstanding the politically incorrect outcry of racism, this is madness.

The considered enticements include reduced apartment-rent, one-year gym-membership, and on-the-spot teaching contract, presumably meaning no vetting needed, just a teaching certificate. Reason: necessity to compete with other systems that offer more inducements, sort of like recruiting basketball players.

One can only wonder how Fayette teachers feel about this, especially those who have made significant sacrifices to satisfy requirements leading to greater proficiency, as well as non-ethnic applicants already deemed acceptable but waiting while the pigment-entitled pass them. Case-in-point: At the same time she became a Supreme Court justice, Justice Sotomayor was overturned by SCOTUS regarding her previous federal court decision favoring “reverse discrimination,” i.e., ruling that blacks bypass four more-qualified whites in fire-department promotions in a Connecticut city.

Ninety percent of Fayette teachers are white while 37.5% of students are black/Hispanic. About 90% of the UK basketball team (at least the ones who play in games) is black while the coach and 75% of the fans are white. So what! Ethnicity means absolutely nothing in either case.

The latest Prichard Report indicated that in order to achieve proper diversity among teachers the state would need to hire 6,882 black, Hispanic and teachers of other nationalities. The average teacher-salary in Kentucky, according to the Ky. Dept. of Education, is $52,618 ($58,385 in Lexington), meaning an additional outlay of some $400 million a year unless the white-teacher population is reduced by 6,882 teachers (5%) so political correctness can be achieved. How much sense does that make?

Supply obviously is a problem. Potential teachers must finish high school and college/university. In 2013, according to U.S. News & World Report (March 2016), 40.3% and 60.7% of black and white students, respectively, graduated college. The numbers graduating high school in 2012, according to the Huffington Post, were 69% and 86%, for blacks and whites, respectively. Hispanics came in at 73%. The pool for ethnic teachers is extremely small on just the basis of formal training.

Preparation is a problem. In order to teach, aspirants must pass a teacher-certification test. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer (April 2002), 36% of teacher-applicants at Kentucky State University (traditionally black enrolment) in Frankfort, passed that test, while the state average was 93% in the other state colleges/universities that year. That's deplorable though one hopes that improvement has been made since then, notwithstanding the constant turmoil at that school since 2002.

The test can be taken over and over until it is passed, and that's scary, as is the fact that until passing the aspirant may work as a substitute-teacher or in an emergency (whatever that would be). Students in the education dept. at KSU then were 60% and 40% black and white, respectively. When 74% of any class flunks its main standard of efficiency, the notion of a quota-system is absolutely off the charts when hiring takes place vis-a-vis preparation in an institution with that record. There's little reason to think much has changed at KSU.

Satisfying quotas, as Sotomayor might agree now (as well as UK coach Calipari), degrades the matter in question, especially the vital one of education. The Fayette system should remember this, no matter what political correctness dictates. Preoccupying itself with the hiring of potentially inferior teachers is unacceptable, just as basketball scholarships for white guys who can't jump.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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