School grades little indication of an educator’s potential
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the self-proclaimed leader of education in New York state, is at it again.
This time, as part of his statewide education reform initiative, he is calling for raising the academic standards for those who would enter teacher or principal preparation programs at SUNY. The initiative would require a minimum 3.0 grade point average for admission to such programs, as well as high scores on the Graduate Record Examinations, or GREs.
According to media reports, currently there are no minimum standards for entrance to teacher preparation programs. This, of course, is a fallacy as all college programs have standards for admission or they would take every potential student who completes an application form. That does not happen.
After advocating the “death penalty” for under-performing schools, in a system that is too expensive and under-performing, and in addition to his teacher evaluation system (which by the way is stalled at this point), New York’s education governor is now going to fix the schools by recruiting the best and brightest. How can you argue with that one?
Personally I am very much in favor or smart people being teachers. Having worked in schools for more than 40 years, I am pleased to report that all of the teachers and administrators I worked with were pretty darn smart. However, not all of these smart people could teach. Therein lies the problem that will cause another misguided Cuomo education policy to crash and burn.
Think of the very best teacher you had, from kindergarten on up. What was his or her academic average in high school? What were his or her SAT scores? Which college did he or she attend? What was his or her grade point average and undergraduate class rank, etc.? The answers are usually pretty simple — “I don’t know,” probably followed by “I don’t care.” That is because the questions are not the best measure of good teaching.
Face it: All of us who attended college had some great teachers and some OK teachers, and occasionally, a really bad one. Even the bad ones were smart people, with high test scores; and they all [probably] held graduate degrees. They were not dumb, they just couldn’t teach. They could not develop a rapport with the students. They could not inspire them. They could not capture their imaginations or their hearts. The good ones can and the great ones always do.
Don’t make such a big deal about Camp Bisco
Re Sept. 22 editorial, “Bid adieu to Camp Bisco,”: I find it truly fascinating that two-and-a-half months after Camp Bisco, some residents are still so stressed out [over] something that occurs once a year.
Living five minutes away as I do, I hear the music morning and night; I am also right in the thick of it with the extra cars on Route 159, and also experience the stops by the sheriff’s department — even if I’m just going to the Mariaville store. Now, that’s an inconvenience!
Are these residents so put out? There are no more traffic snafus. Frank Potter and his people had specific walkways for the kids on Batter Street. As far as litter and garbage, it was cleaned up expeditiously and thoroughly. It’s a music festival, for Pete’s sake!
As far as I’m concerned, there are more important things going on in the world than getting stressed over Camp Bisco. I hope these residents don’t get themselves so stressed out thinking of Camp Bisco all winter [long] for something that lasts three days in the middle of summer.
Adjunct professors play integral role in education
I read with interest the different arrangements that institutions of higher learning have with adjunct professors [Sept. 22 Gazette]. The article focused on compensation paid by various institutions to adjunct faculty members.
As an adjunct faculty member at RPI, I know not what RPI pays its regular faculty members in comparison to adjunct faculty. I also know that adjuncts do not receive the benefits the regular faculty receive.
At RPI, adjunct faculty receive a small life insurance policy while teaching. Each individual considering an adjunct position must consider the pluses and minuses when evaluating their decision to accept an adjunct position.
More importantly, adjuncts offer an opportunity to bring years of practical experience and “real world” issues into the academic environment. In today’s competitive environment, students must have practical experience as part of their resume. I involve the students in experiences where they work outside the classroom with practitioners and politicians to provide solutions to problems facing a community.
In doing so, the students make presentations to professionals and officials who are critical of their suggestions. If challenged, students are required to respond appropriately and modify their suggestions accordingly. Students use academic fundamentals; apply them to the “real world” issues; modify the solution and provide practical, cost-effective solutions. In doing so, they are better prepared for a career after college.
In a current climate where opportunities for graduates are at a premium, adjuncts can be an important part of the future of college graduates. There should be more opportunities for willing career professionals to share their experiences in the college classroom.
Motorcycles getting lost in sea of daytime lights
Re Peter Frank’s Sept. 19 letter,“Motorcyclists need to look out for themselves”: I have been riding motorcycles since 1973. One of the things that motorcyclists had in their favor at that time was when you started the bike, the headlight came on automatically. That was for 99 percent of the motorcycles, and it was the only thing that separated motorcycles from car, trucks, buses and the like.
Then, sometime in the early 1980s, these vehicles became equipped with daytime running lights, and motorcycles were lost in plain sight. Motorcyclists blended in with all the traffic.
Let me also add that motorcyclists are good people. Most of us ride in charitable events, for childhood cancer, dwarfism awareness, disabled American veterans, Wounded American Warriors, the Leukemia Society, Toys for Tots, suicide prevention, families that have been burned out of their homes, MS, etc.
I am not upset with Mr. Frank or his opinion, but I hope he watches out for us and lets us continue with our good work. We are his neighbors and friends! And we care about his safety also.
John M. Aini Jr.
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