You Don’t Have to be Literate to Teach in NY Public Schools

My grandparents (both sides) were born in Italy. My mother had 11 brothers and sisters and my father had 10. My grandparents could not speak English very well. They insisted that their children learn English, and learn it well.

My mother’s father sold the farm that he owned on the outskirts of Pittsburgh so he could afford to move closer to the city and the city’s schools.

Education was a top priority for my grandparents.

They would be horrified at how immigrants are being treated today. The goal has always been to get the children of immigrants to learn the language. It doesn’t take long. My oldest grandchild who’s nine-years-old, in addition to English is fluent in Spanish. His parents sent him to a school where half the day he only hears Spanish.

A friend adopted to Russian teenagers. They took the course “English as a Second Language” and are now fluent in English and have high-paying jobs.

Bleeding heart liberals think they are doing immigrant children a favor by coddling them.

The teachers need to be qualified, and it doesn’t matter to me what their race or nationality is. But it does matter to the education leaders in New York. It seems that you do not have to be literate to teach in NY Public Schools:

A New York literacy test designed to weed out unqualified teachers, called the Academic Literacy Skills Test, is to be done away with by the New York State Board of Regents as suggested by a task force according to The Associated Press.

The reason for eliminating the test is due to the fact that whites predominantly pass the exam at 64 percent, while other minorities such as blacks and latinos, pass the test with a 46 percent and 41 percent success rate respectively.

This might sound harsh, but if blacks and latinos can’t even get a 50 percent score, they shouldn’t be teaching anything. When I went to school, 64 percent was barely a D. And these are the teachers!

“In 2013-14, only 48 percent of aspiring black teachers and 56 percent of prospective Hispanic educators passed, compared to 75 percent of white candidates, the website Chalkbeat reported in February.” (NY Post) Even a score of 75 percent (C+) is not good enough. “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.”1 New York is proving the adage to be true.

Take a guess what the reason is for the low test scores. Go ahead. Guess. You know what it is:

“Opponents to ridding New York of the test believe that this will lead to teachers with a weak ability to teach, however, Kate Walsh, the president of National Council on Teacher Quality said the reason minorities are scoring lower on the test is due to poverty and racism.”

This is an insult to blacks and latinos. It doesn’t matter if a teacher is literate as long as he or she is the right race or in the proper income bracket. My grandparents were very poor. A lot of immigrants were poor and discriminated against. Every ethnic group coming to New York came through Harlem. They worked their way out.

Consider northern migration of blacks from the South. As difficult as blacks had it during this period, a distinctly black culture developed, even in the prevalence of racist attitudes and restrictive laws. “Because Washington was a segregated city, blacks simply created their own metropolis. . . . The first black bank, the Industrial Savings Bank, was started here.” While “the black population of New York’s Harlem inherited many of its buildings from previous white owners, . . . many of the buildings in Shaw were paid for by black businessmen and built by black hands.”2 Adversity led millions of blacks to parts unknown to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Thomas Sowell writes:

“Black family life in the early decades of the twentieth century was typically one featuring two-parent households. More than four out of five Negro families in New York in 1905 were headed by the father. As late as 1925, only 3 percent of black families in New York were headed by a woman under twenty. The unwed teenage welfare mother emerged in a later era.”3

The change in the black family is not the result of racism. It’s the result of government meddling. Give the kids of New York the best teachers, not mediocre or failing ones.

  1. From George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman.) Bob: “I’m so discouraged. My writing teacher told me my novel is hopeless.” Jane: “Don’t listen to her, Bob. Remember: those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” []
  2. Mark Cauvreau Judge, If It Ain’t Got that Swing: The Rebirth of Grown-Up Culture (Dallas, TX: Spence Publishing, 2000), 4. []
  3. Thomas Sowell, Ethnic America: A History (New York: Basic Books, 1981), 213. []
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