Last year in Pennsylvania, more than one-third of the 12,000 prospective math and science teachers failed certification exams. Nearly half of those who would teach Spanish in the Keystone State failed to pass, and approximately one-third failed the special education certification requirements. Yet, nearly 4,000 "emergency" teaching permits were issued to fill classroom vacancies.
In New York, 3,300 black and Latino teachers are suing the state after failing their certification tests, claiming it has hurt their careers.
In Lawrence, Mass., one-third of the teachers tested for fluency in English failed. The tests were required after the public forced schools, through ballot initiative, to drop most bilingual education programs. In Lawrence, the fallacy of bilingual education goes all the way to the top. Wilfredo Laboy, who earns $156,560 as the superintendent of public schools in Lawrence, failed the basic literacy test that all Massachusetts teachers must pass. In fact, Laboy has failed the test three times, although his supporters insist that the fourth time will be the charm.
Another problem is that public money meant to support education is wasted. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is opening the nation’s first homosexual-only public high school. He is also spending $20 million to support bilingual education -- even though the program is failing in neighboring Massachusetts -- and doing all this at the expense of six New York City firehouses he closed in the spring, citing budget constraints. Biloxi, Miss., located in a state with America’s poorest test scores, recently spent $2 million to install spy cameras in all classrooms. Somebody may want to look to see the last time George Orwell’s "1984" was last checked out of a Biloxi library.
And at its most recent convention in New Orleans, the National Education Association (NEA), which purports to be dedicated to teaching the nation’s public school students, had its delegates spend their time discussing and endorsing proposals that have nothing to do with education. For example, the NEA endorsed family planning, discrimination against home-schooled students, sex education, a national health care policy, statehood for the District of Columbia, and the International Court of Justice. Oh, yes, it also took the time to devote $1 million to electing Democrat candidates.
The reason public school students aren’t faring as well as they should is because they are being lead by politicians and education bureaucrats who care more about politics and political correctness than they do about educating America’s youth. Fortunately, new accountability standards are beginning to shake things up in the education establishment, and it's about time. After all, the writing has been on the wall for many years. They just haven’t been able to read it.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.