Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

[Susan notes: Okay, I'm trying to follow Stephen Krashen's good example and raise my voice beyond my website. And a reader asked me to take on George Will. I admit I usually ignore him.]

Submitted to Newsweek but not published

To the editor

Since George Will's love letter to Arne Duncan ("Mr. Duncan's Smart Lesson Plan," Jan. 31, 2011) is designed to be shared with those who find Mr. DuncanĂ¢€™s height his most awesome attribute, let me admit from the getgo that I'm more than a foot shorter than Mr. Duncan. And I'm appalled by his application of the full court press strategy to the teaching profession.

Unlike some, I readily admit when I don't know squat about something, and certainly I don't know if the strategy of grit over actual talent, of wearing out your competition, of what those in the know call "legs over arms," works over the long haul in basketball.

Hall of Fame coach Nolan Richardson called this tactic "40 minutes of Hell." And not surprisingly, George Will thinks it's great that Duncan applies this hell--a triumph of pyrotechnics over seasoned, practiced talent--to teaching. Tire veteran teachers out with a continuous assault and bring in Teach for America.

Why stop with teachers? Let's skip the cumbersome training and monopolistic licensing procedures and apply easy-in requirements to all professions: butcher, baker, brain surgeon.

Will has a talent for packing a lot of misinformation into a short space, but here's one indisputable fact: The U. S. Department of Education's own Data Express identifies 44.2% of students in U. S. public schools as low income. In Washington, D. C., it's 67.1%. The U.S. may not have the highest math scores in the industrialized world but we beat out everybody with the highest rate of childhood poverty. Finland, Singapore and South Korea donĂ¢€™t come close.

Provide parents with living wage jobs. Then I'll listen to what you say about how teachers are doing.

Leave No Child Unfed.

Susan Ohanian, longtime teacher and proud of it

Susan Ohanian

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.