Are qualified, exemplary teachers teaching our children? Does the quality of our children's education meet sufficient standards? In Diane Ravitch's article, "Put Teachers to the Test," she answers with a resounding "no." Her article's primary goal--to put an end to low national teaching standards and requirements--is indeed a noteworthy cause, which is similarly felt by many fellow scholars. However, despite the article's coherency and consistent supporting evidence, closer examination of "Put Teachers to the Test" unfortunately points to a narrow, slanted set of supporting data, several normative, unsubstantiated claims, failure to account for the oppositions' arguments, and lastly a proposition of awkward, inappropriate solutions to remedy the matter. Because of these faults, this article is ultimately a mixed blessing; its purpose is commendable: to improve the quality of our teachers, while conversely, the deficiencies within the work place its author's authority in doubt.
In every reference to case studies, each of Ravitch's supporting claims backs her argument, yet leaves room for a disputable interpretation.
In her opening paragraph, she refers to a New York district where nearly three-quarters of English teacher applicants performed below par on a required examination for the job. Though this case is quite pertinent, the author fails to include the frequency of such events. Thus, one cannot merely assume that such poor applicant performance is common, or that it has ever occurred elsewhere.
Ravitch's statistical references can again be debated when she discusses percentages of out-of-field teachers in various subjects. Ravitch claims that, "34% of mathematics teachers and 25% of English teachers are teaching 'out-of-field'" (Ravitch 1). Assuming that these numbers are accurate (Ravitch fails to cite this finding), opposition may note that the vast majority teaching these subjects are teaching in their own field of expertise. History, or social science, the only subject discussed...