« AnteriorContinuar »
Senator KENNEDY. I thank the panel for their testimony; if I could just submit a few other questions.
Senator STAFFORD. Thank you, Senator Kennedy. The Chair, for the members of the subcommittee, would reserve the right to all members to submit questions in writing, if that is agreeable to the panel, for response at your early convenience.
Senator Pell, do you have any questions?
Senator PELL. I have a couple of questions and look forward to perusing the testimony. I understand it is excellent. But I was interested in the reaction of the panel as to whether they believe that language instruction should be included as a high priority in the legislation we are considering.
And there are two kinds of language instruction I am thinking of. One is foreign language, and the other is the point that Senator Denton brought up, whether English should be included in this bill.
What would be the reaction, just going from left to right? Mr. McGuire?
Mr. McGUIRE. Thank you, Senator. I mentioned both of those and feel very strongly that they are important. We have talked about the needs at the elementary school to have a strong base in English, in reading and writing in order to be able to move ahead and do well.
Senator PELL. Excuse me. My question is: Should they be included in this bill?
Mr. McGUIRE. Yes, I believe they should be included in the bill. Senator PELL. Both?
Mr. McGUIRE. Yes, both. And in terms of the American Defense Education Act, we are talking in terms of both.
Senator PELL. Right. Because this would mean less money in math and science.
Mr. McGUIRE. It might, but in terms of the American Defense Education Act, we are talking about a community response to the improvement of math and science instruction and of foreign languages. We are talking about a community based, comprehensive plan that will be implemented from elementary grades through high school in ways that the community determines best what will help the math instruction, the science instruction, and the foreign language instruction, and I believe that is going to take a strong English component as well, in reading and writing at the elementary school level in order to provide the base where those things can happen.
Senator PELL. Thank you.
Senator PELL. Or should we just focus the approach on math and science as we do now?
Mr. McGUIRE. I think it has to be broader than just math and science.
Ms. GRAHAM. My sense, Senator, is that the U.S. Senate is responsible for improving the entire Nation, and the entire Nation needs improvement in its ability to use language as well as its ability to deal with mathematic and scientific and technical matters.
Senator PELL. Would you include both, foreign language instruction and English language instruction?
Ms. GRAHAM. Yes, I believe the Senate needs to be concerned about our priority instruction in math, but whether they are included in this bill or in separate bills I leave to the Senate.
Senator PELL. Thank you.
Mr. SHANKER. It think it is a question of tactics and not a question of goals. I think there is no one here who is opposed to improvements in instruction and solving problems that we have in all these areas. But we also know that from time to time the people of this country focus on a particular issue, sometimes separating it from other important issues.
I think this is such a moment. And while I would strongly favor legislation which would generally increase education, which would increase it in categories which we have had in the past, which would focus on foreign languages—and there have been such proposals and we have supported them in the past, I think that focusing on math and science in this case is likely to produce a better program, and it is likely to produce more funds, and I think that from a tactical point of view, we are probably better off at this point not abandoning these areas, but saying that this is our mission today, and then we will go on to these other missions in the very near future.
Senator PELL. Thank you.
One other question, if you will permit me, Mr. Chairman, and that is, I was reading a rather dismal article in U.S. News & World Report last night about teaching. What can be done, in your view, to improve the quality of teaching? Should there be tests for teachers, or should it increase the national incentives as we are doing, but what can be done to enhance the quality of the teaching?
Mr. SHANKER. Well, certainly, one of the things that ought to be done is that there ought to be a test for those who enter. The test will not guarantee that you—that anyone who passes those tests and even anyone who passes them with high marks, they will not necessarily make great teachers. They may have great psychological problems. They may hate children.
They may be unfit for many reasons. But I do not care how fit a person is on the basis of motivation, on the basis of his own psychology, if a person is illiterate, that person should not be a teacher. If a person does not know any mathematics, they should not be a math teacher. And if they do not know enough math to be an elementary schoolteacher, they should not be an elementary schoolteacher.
Now, some States are starting to give these minimal competency tests to teachers, and you see that there are rates of failure on simple arithmetic questions as high as-ranging from 10 percent to 70 percent failure rates.
And I would guess that if you get a failure rate of, let us say, 30 percent in a state that is giving an examination, probably the applicants know they cannot pass it; many of them have not even bothered to apply. I would say States that do not give an examination may very well be hiring from a pool where the percentages are even higher.
That is an absolute minimum that we ought to do.
Senator PELL. And do you think such competency checkups, the tests should be given every 10 years or 5 years, or one test?
Mr. SHANKER. Well, I doubt very much that somebody who knew his arithmetic or her arithmetic 10 years ago and has been teaching it for 10 years has forgotten it after 10. I also do not think that it is a very good recruiting device to tell new people, come on in, we are hiring you for 5 or 10 years, and every once in awhile we are going to check you out and you can be bounced at any time.
We do not do that in any other field. Maybe we should.
Senator STAFFORD. In the Senate we do it; we have a thing called elections.
Senator PELL. As the chairman points out, we do. In connection with the-well, first let us get the answer from Dr. Graham, what her reaction is.
Ms. GRAHAM. Teachers must start with a knowledge of the subject matter that is to be taught, and the knowledge of the subject matter that is to be taught is a necessary but not sufficient condition for good teaching.
Additional issues for teachers include pedagogical style, pedagogical skill, perspective on the educational enterprise, and concern for the welfare of children and their learning. But unless teachers are thoroughly competent in what it is that they are to teach, and unless they have enthusiasm for it, children will not learn.
Senator PELL. So, in other words, you approve of the idea that one of the tools in hiring would be passing a test. As you point out, it does not necessarily make you a great teacher.
Ms. GRAHAM. I think there are a variety of ways to assess whether or not a teacher is competent in the subject matter. Testing is one of them. Performance in academic courses of rigorous merit is another. There are a variety of ways. To my mind, no single method has been devised that is satisfactory.
Senator PELL. Of course, if you tested one in math, we went through this phase of new math, and now, as I understand it-I never could understand new math-and now we have gone back to the old math. So that would make it very difficult to do.
Ms. GRAHAM. It is a revised math; no question about that.
Mr. McGUIRE. Certainly, we believe that two things have to happen. One has to be in the whole area of teacher preparation and we favor a very strong teacher preparation program with high entrance requirements, a rigorous course study in the discipline to be taught, and work in education, working directly with young people, and rather than any single test, that a profile be kept including the entrance test scores, the grade point average within the rigorous following of the discipline, and then evaluation of that sensitive interraction that takes place between teacher and student that has been videotaped and observed.
And through that entire profile, we should have a better idea of finding those who have a high promise of success in that respect.
Senator Pell. You would not object to a test being one of the criteria?
Mr. McGuire. There would be many—a single-I would object to a single test of the person doing all that was expected of them during the 4 years and taking a single pencil and paper test at the end. But I believe there should be strong entrance requirements, many tests given during the rigorous course work, and evaluation all the way along so there was a profile to look at, rather than a single test at the end that said, you are in; you are out. I do not think that that is nearly as fair as a strong profile over the entire period.
Mr. SHANKER. Senator, I would strongly disagree with that. I think that your grades in college are an indication of something. Sometimes they are an indication that the college gives easy grades. They are not an indication, very much I do not know how we monitor whether a person has been in rigorous or tough courses and done well without some very extensive system, which I do not think this country wants to get into or ever will get into.
I do not see what is wrong-if prospective lawyers can take bar exams and doctors after going to medical school take examinations; actuaries take examinations. Everybody in our society takes examinations, not because we do not trust somebody, but because we do not have a system that absolutely will guarantee that the institutions are making proper certifications.
Now, if everyone else in our society can take a test and that test plays not the only role, but a very important role in determining whether that person moves into an occupation or a profession, I do not see why we cannot provide the same protection for our children that we provide for everybody else.
Senator PELL. I think you are right: from birth to death, the doctor has to do it and the undertaker has to do it. And you—I would agree with you.
I have no further questions.
Senator STAFFORD. Thank you very much, Senator Pell. And for the subcommittee, I want to express our appreciation to all three of you for being here. There will be some questions in writing, I can assure you, and we will look forward to your answers to those, as we have enjoyed your answers this morning here in person.
Thank you very much.
Senator STAFFORD. The next panel will consist of Dr. E. K. Fretwell, chancellor of North Carolina University at Charlotte; Dr. Howard D. Mehlinger, dean, School of Education, University of Indiana at Bloomington, Ind.; the Reverend William J. Byron, president of Catholic University; Dr. Richard Brod, director, Association of Departments of Foreign Languages, Modern Language Association; and Dr. Joshua Smith, president, Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York, N.Y. Welcome to all
of you and our appreciation for your willingness to come here and assist this subcommittee in the job we have embarked upon on behalf of education. Again, I apologize for the lack of time we always seem to run into here. And I guess I explained to the earlier panel that stop and go system we have been forced to resort to, it gives you 4 minutes on the green, 1 minute on the yellow, and then the red.
And since we have your statements in full, we will place them in the record as if read and encourage you to summarize them within the timeframe, if you possibly can. Having said that, it would be the Chair's intent to go in the order in which we introduced the panel, if that is agreeable to members, which means Dr. Fretwell, you would proceed to be followed by Dr. Mehlinger, the Reverend Byron, Mr. Brod, and finally, Dr. Smith.
If that is agreeable, Dr. Fretwell, we will start with you. STATEMENTS OF E. K. FRETWELL, JR., CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSI.
TY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHARLOTTE, ON BEHALF OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF STATE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSI. TIES; HOWARD D. MEHLINGER, DEAN, SCHOOL OF EDUCATION, AND PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION AND HISTORY, INDIANA UNIVERSITY, BLOOMINGTON, IND.; REV. WILLIAM J. BYRON, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA; RICHARD BROD, DIRECTOR, FOREIGN LANGUAGE PROGRAMS, MODERN LANGUAGE ASSOCIATION, AND SECRETARY-TREASURER, JOINT NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR LANGUAGES, WASHINGTON, D.C.; AND JOSHUA SMITH, PRESIDENT, BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN COMMUNITY COLLEGE, NEW YORK, N.Y., ON BEHALF OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY AND JUNIOR COLLEGES, AND THE ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE TRUSTEES
Mr. FRETWELL. Thank you, Senator. I am E. K. Fretwell, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and I am speaking today for those of us in North Carolina and also for 20 organizations listed on the cover of the testimony, which I am glad to present for the record.
I might say, incidentally, I am a former elementary and secondary schoolteacher. The current nature of the problem in science and mathematics education, I think, is so well known that I am not going to spend time this morning viewing with alarm. I think we are aware of the problem and that my colleagues on this panel and the earlier panel have made that very clear indeed.
I would like to suggest, however, that there may be some hope for the society as far as we are concerned, and one of the things that I find useful-and I hope it goes somewhere-is what appears to be a bipartisan recognition of the growing crisis.
President Reagan, in a message to the 1982 National Academy of Sciences convocation on sciences and math in the schools declared, “The problems today in elementary and secondary school science and mathematics education are serious, serious enough to compromise American's future ability to develop and advance our traditional industrial base to compete in international marketplaces."
A special task force on long-term economic policy in the House Democratic Caucus observed in a report called "Rebuilding the Road to Opportunity,” and I quote from that source:
In the future a well educated, well trained work force will be essential to sustained economic growth. The future will be won with brainpower. The research we must undertake to produce new technologies requires that, yet we are not graduating sufficient numbers of scientists, engineers, and technicians.
Now, there seems to be general agreement on the dimensions of the problem, but not yet consensus on the solution. And my view is that constructive actions are not needed at just one level, but si