Monday, January 30, 2012

The Way We Were

From a comment to Scraping the $40,000 Ceiling at New York City Private Schools: (as always, the comments are more interesting than the article):


I went to the NYC public schools in the 1940's and 50's. They were safe, rigorous, and clean. The teacher's were well educated, motivated, and made sure that each student worked to their capacity. All of my friends went to the same public schools and we all grew up to become professionals.
The halls were quiet and orderly. Those students who were academic went to one of the four city colleges which were free, while those students who were not were able to go to a vocational high school that gave them a skilled craft(- automotive, aeronautics, baking, nursing, electrical, manual trades-).
So what happened?
When contemporary public schools meet the above mentioned criteria parents flock to send their children to these schools- Hunter College Elementary and H.S., Stuyvesant H.S., Townsend Harris, Bronx H.S. of Science, Brooklyn Tech., Staten Island Tech in no particular order of quality - including the so-called 1%.

Josh Hill, New London

Yep. I think it fell apart for a number of reasons. The schools lowered behavior and academic expectations, and that's always a disaster. Talented women, no longer barred from other professions, chose to be doctors, lawyers, or professors rather than teachers, and we have been unwilling to make wages and working conditions for teachers competitive.

My mother, herself a NYC public school graduate, did some teacher evaluations for the BOE and was shocked at what has happened to the quality of the teachers. She compared the current crop to cocktail waitresses. These days the typical education major is in the bottom fifth of his college class.


  1. I find this insulting.
    I know some very smart cocktail waitresses.

  2. Yes, the "cocktail waitress" remark is obnoxious, but I left it in because it's driving at something important. It seems that the public schools were pretty good in the '40's and '50's, and they've been careening downhill ever since. Why? What happened? How can we fix it?

  3. Anonymous, I agree it's an obnoxious comment too. But it makes a larger point.

    It's a point we don't want to discuss because it's not politically correct. Are education schools pulling in our best and brightest? We already know education majors do the least amount of studying. And yes, independent study is completely appropriate in college, just not in elementary.

    I see some real polarity these days in education. I have brilliant friends who left lucrative positions in industry because they want to give something back. And then I see other teachers who selected this field because it was an easy major. There is no question the pool of talent has been dumbed down.

    Shoot me. I am a liberal. Just sayin'.

  4. Don't you find it ironic that the teachers who call for the most homework in grade school did the least in college?