Saturday, August 31, 2002

Why Good Teachers Fail

Reason magazine has a good article about Jaime Escalante, the teacher from Stand And Deliver and what became of him. It also looks at how the educational establishment crushes good teachers. Important lessons for Memphis in this.

One quote to entice you:
In the ensuing years, Escalante’s calculus program grew phenomenally. In 1983
both enrollment in his class and the number of students passing the A.P. calculus
test more than doubled, with 33 taking the exam and 30 passing it. In 1987, 73
passed the test, and another 12 passed a more advanced version ("BC") usually
given after the second year of calculus.

By 1990, Escalante’s math enrichment program involved over 400 students in
classes ranging from beginning algebra to advanced calculus. Escalante and his
fellow teachers referred to their program as "the dynasty," boasting that it would
someday involve more than 1,000 students.

That goal was never met. In 1991 Escalante decided to leave Garfield. All his
fellow math enrichment teachers soon left as well. By 1996, the dynasty was not
even a minor fiefdom. Only seven students passed the regular ("AB") test that
year, with four passing the BC exam -- 11 students total, down from a high of

Until next time,
Your Working Boy

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