More Productive Ways

Published January 17, 2011

Lewiston’s School Committee would be wise if it did its homework before hastily approving a proposal by the new school superintendent, Bill Webster, to enmesh teachers at half the city’s schools in the tedious pursuit of national certification. (“New superintendent recommends teacher training,” Jan. 11)

“Nationally certified” has a nice ring to it, and the prospect of winning a federal grant to train applicant teachers is enticing. However, if committee members would spend even an hour doing a Google search of all that has transpired since the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards was founded, at the behest of the national teacher unions in 1987, they would have a good start on a substantive investigation.

Undoubtedly, NBPTS requires a time-consuming process for certification.

Teachers must present thick portfolios, videotape themselves teaching, present student work, and write essays on their teaching philosophy. However, all this basically reinforces the progressive pedagogy that most education schools sought to instill in teachers when they were in college.

With a little effort, committee members can find independent studies (those not paid for by the NBPTS) that raise serious questions about this expensive system’s lack of cost-effectiveness and failure to elevate student achievement.

Surely, there are more productive ways to use the time that teachers have available to work with their students.

Robert Holland, senior fellow for education policy

The Heartland Institute, Chicago