Each month, The Oklahoman's editorial board recognizes a contributor to Your Views for a letter to the editor that exemplifies a timely, fair, accurate and cogent viewpoint. Ott Johnson of Stillwater is the honoree for letters that appeared in Your Views last month. His “Education merry-go-round” letter was published Sept. 8.
Meet the writer:
Ott Johnson grew up as the son of a sharecropper in Stuart, west of McAlester. He served two years in the U.S. Army before graduating from Oklahoma A&M College in 1958 with a degree in geology. He then began a career with the Soil Conservation Service within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, working in various states and in Washington, D.C. He also wrote opinion columns for various newspapers as he moved around the country. After retiring, Johnson settled on a small ranch in Pittsburg County, where he served as vice chairman of the local rural water board and as a board member of the Oklahoma Rural Water Association. He's also written technical documents, evaluated environmental conditions for pork production and provided geological information for various contractors. Johnson now lives in Stillwater with his high school sweetheart, Virginia, his wife of 62 years.
Class size, 6-pound textbooks, computers, whiteboards, dress codes, new grading system, graduation tests. All these and more seem to create more education problems than solutions. Unions demand more money, their perpetual solution, while insisting incapable teachers remain on board. Class size, we were told, is the problem. After millions of taxpayers' dollars constructed more classrooms requiring more teachers, thus more union members, grades haven't substantially improved.
An education study in Boston concluded that quality teachers are the educational variable that matters most. The McKinsey & Company 2009 global education study concluded the same. The most highly educated students overall were found in Singapore, Japan, Korea and Finland, where classroom size is typically 30 students or more. Thus, teacher quality appears to be our education's weak link.
However, teachers pay inflated higher education tuition and fees, study and attend classes for their education and teaching certificates, proof of teaching knowledge and ability as determined by and colleges. If our teachers are inferior, shouldn't those institutions take responsibility for their inferior product?
Still, our boards of regents and unions keep clamoring for more tax and tuition dollars to do the same ol' same ol' while expecting improved results! Let's get off the backs of primary and secondary teachers who daily struggle to educate our children with the handicap of federal guidelines and undisciplined students and place the blame where it belongs.