Tuesday letters: Let only top students become teachers

March 11, 2014 

I am not officially an educator, but I have been subjected to and interested in public education in three countries, languages and cultures. I have an master’s in engineering and an master of business administration, and I have taught from community college to post-graduate courses.

The current hot topic is teacher evaluation, but it’s not being discussed in a productive way.

We accept almost everyone who has the tuition money and desire to become a teacher. This renders a wide range of capabilities, knowledge and training, resulting in an equally wide range of quality and learning capacity per candidate. Only after students graduate from teaching institutions are they evaluated — after some damage already has been done, and without regard to what our children have been provided.

To me, the procedure is backwards. The Nordic countries discovered a simple truth 40 to 50 years ago, with excellent results: Only excellent teachers can develop excellent students. How to translate this to practice? Accept only the cream of the applicants, typically 5 percent to 15 percent, to enter training institutes.

But don’t let the selection stop there. Follow each student’s progress or necessity for weeding out. After a bachelor’s degree, insist on an extra year to get a master’s in the student’s chosen field, leading to a professional career and standing. Pay them well, typically $50,000 to $100,000 a year, since they provide the most important ingredient in a child’s development and growth. Result: world-renown success.

Auvo Kemppinen


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