Thanks again for reading the column and thank you for your comments. I heard from many of my Calhoun City friends while attending a program at the Methodist Church. Remember, I always welcome your comments.
We as adults make an error many times by saying to young people, “do as I say, not as I do.” That is sad but it is true in many situations. As I opened the newspaper on Tuesday morning, July 24, a headline got my attention quickly. The headline in the Clarion/Ledger read, “State may lower biology teacher requirements.” I quickly read it again hoping I was wrong but I was not. It said exactly that. The reason given was “biology teachers are hard to find.” According to the State Board of Education the way to fix the problem is to lower the score on the biology test given to teachers. That makes sense doesn’t it? Lower the score and more will pass thus placing more teachers on the job market. Having been a high school principal I am totally aware that teachers are hard to find in certain curriculum areas, science being one of them.
It helped my feelings a little to discover that by lowering the score our state would be more in line with our surrounding states. I am sure that if they cannot be certified in Mississippi they will go to another state and gain certification. According to the article in the Clarion/Ledger, Wesley McCammon, a biology teacher at Pisgah High School, questioned how lowering the biology teacher minimum score is consistent with the national push to increase students’ test scores under the federal No Child Left Behind program. This certainly is a situation where we teach inconsistency to students. We demand that scores students make become better and yet the State Board is discussing lowering the biology teacher minimum score. That hardly makes sense to me. Apparently I am not alone in my opinion. It the same article Tommye Henderson, superintendent of the Clinton Public School District, questioned whether lowering the minimum score is consistent with Mississippi’s recent effort to make student assessments more rigorous.
“To me it’s sending a bit of a mixed message. I’m having trouble as an educator justifying the fact that we’re expecting our students to compete internationally in science and math,” he said.
Young people will discover that we as educators are talking out of both sides of our mouths. That is not the message we should want our students to hear. I also wonder if the colleges and universities are teaching the materials covered on the biology test. Does the test adequately measure those skills? If the answer to these two questions is yes then I would not support lowering scores.
There is one final subject that I must mention to everyone. August 7 is the date for party primary elections. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of voting. As I have said many times, it is not only a privilege but a duty as an American citizen. The right to vote and choose our leaders is the foundation of our democracy. Please review the credentials of all the candidates and make your choice and express that choice on August 7. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Please join me in voting.