Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Screaming at my radio

On December 16, NPR's "Talk of the Nation" ran a segment entitled Study Urges More Diverse Teachers: "A recent report says the U.S. student body is far more diverse than the teaching force -- and it's costing students. We explore how to make America's teaching force more diverse, and why it matters." I did not hear the whole story, because I tuned in late and, after I found myself screaming at the radio, snapped it off early. Here's my story: I tuned in to hear the guest explain that, well, yes, African-Americans have a very low pass rate on teaching exams, and that's bad, because they get discouraged from taking the exams if they know there is such a high failure rate. Then, the host, Neal Conan, took a call. The caller identified himself as a teacher who had taught for years in rough, inner-city school districts. His point was that the primary problem facing these schools isn't a lack of teacher diversity, it's students who are hungry, malnourished and abused; students who come from broken, unstable homes; and students who grow up in homes and communities where there is no respect for education. Conan cut him off, and said he wanted to get a comment from the guest. And this is where my screaming began. The guest did not deny anything the caller said. She instead said that the caller was obviously one of those exceptional people who really appreciated the problems the children were having. And then she said something that boiled down as follows: This highlights the need for diversity, because we need more people who are also capable of appreciating these problems. So, if I got her gist, it's not important to solve these problems. It's just important to spend lots of money and effort to ensure that the teachers understand these problems. I turned the radio off at this point, since I was pretty sure that this woman could not possibly say anything else that would interest me.