Ubi discipuli magistrum laudant, ibi administratores escendent in suus anos


No Child Left Behind keeps on working its special brand of magic. This time, it's a star Latin teacher at a Santa Cruz public charter school, who took his Ivy League Ph.D., and his record of turning out honors students, and ankled the school rather than submit to the remedial instruction required to get into compliance with NCLB. According to the Grey Lady:

Despite his doctorate in classics from Harvard, despite his 22 years teaching in high school and college, despite the classroom successes he had so demonstrably achieved with his Latin students in Santa Cruz, [Latin teacher Jefferds Huyck] was not considered "highly qualified" by California education officials under their interpretation of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Rather than submit to what he considered an expensive, time-consuming indignity, a teacher-certification program geared to beginners that would last two years and cost about $15,000, Mr. Huyck decided to resign and move across town to teach in a private school. And in his exasperation, he was not alone.

Two other teachers with doctorates left Pacific Collegiate this year at least in part because of the credentialing requirement, [Principal Andrew] Goldenkranz said…

With the quality of teacher training being widely assailed as undemanding, most recently in a report last month by the Education Schools Project, a nonpartisan group, Pacific Collegiate in 2005 had what certainly looked like the solution. Out of a faculty of 29, 12 already had or were nearing doctoral degrees, primarily related to the subjects they taught…

Yet when Mr. Goldenkranz became principal in September 2005, he was informed by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education that, as he recalled in a recent interview, "in no uncertain terms, we had to develop a path to compliance with N.C.L.B." Once the teachers were certified, Pacific Collegiate itself would have to pay $6,000 per teacher to the state for their enrollment in a program devised to improve retention of new faculty members.

The NCLB-compliance courses for teachers are advertised as being necessary to accommodate ESL and Special Ed students, but the anecdotal stuff in this editorial depicts it as a school-age version of that unfit-parents class Homer and Marge Simpson had to take. ("People, please: When you throw out trash, put it in a bag or trashcan, don't just throw it on the floor. I can't stress that enough.") People who have been teaching for decades are getting instruction on how to write a lesson plan and maintain order in the classroom. (There's a fast-track for experienced teachers in core English, math, and other subjects.)

Considering all the paperwork, bullshit, and red tape students have to go through in public schools (I presume the study-hall timesheets and jealously hoarded books of food vouchers and bus passes must have been replaced with newer-fangled stuff since my own salad days), I haven't got a violin small enough for teachers who are subjected to the same treatment. It's not unreasonable to expect teachers to demonstrate some grasp of basic scholastic material. But this kind of process-oriented solution has a maximal expense-to-benefit ratio, especially at a highly performing school where more than a third of the teachers are Ph.D.s or Ph.D. candidates. (At my own much larger high school, we had one, who wore white gloves all the time and hilariously insisted on being addressed as "Dr. Sayegh.") It's the state of California that is laying on NCLB with the broadest possible brush, but that doesn't get Son of Education President off the hook completely: It was precisely this kind of one-size-fits-none standards that he saw failing when he was governor of Texas, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out the standards would be applied in the most mechanical ways imaginable.

Think Americans students don't need help with the educational basics? Dig viewer jasonboyto's suspicious question about the popular YouTube clip Moon video: plane crossing in field of view: "how can a plane be flying so high?"

Courtesy of reader "M," which I think means "one thousand" in Latin.