Children Will Be A Lot Better Off Without NCLB

Ed Raymond

OK, all you politicians who think you know something about education, what IQ scale point would you give to this gun-nut who has blown away a minister’s daughter? Moises Zambrana of St. Petersburg, Florida, all legal-like and everything, was showing his gun in a small church closet to another member who was interested in buying a firearm. After all, he was a security guard and had a concealed weapons permit approved by the nutty right-wingers in Florida. Why shouldn’t he bring it to church to protect himself from human demons? Moises took out the loaded magazine from his Ruger 9mm. semi-automatic and pulled the trigger to show his prospective buyer how it worked. Evidently he was too dumb to know there was a bullet still in the chamber. The round went through a wall, striking the minister’s 20-year-old daughter in the head. She later died in a hospital. Why does the National Rifle Association want every idiot over 18 to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon in malls, bars, churches, and funeral homes, without knowing anything about handling firearms? The important rule is that there is always a round in the chamber. Many miss that life-or-death lesson or don’t have the brains to learn it. 

My sphincter always tightens up around guns because I have fired pistols, semi-automatics, shotguns, rifles, rifle-propelled grenades, light machineguns, heavy machineguns, rocket launchers, flamethrowers, 60 mm. mortars, 81 mm. mortars, 4.2 mortars, and 105 howitzers. Deadly mistakes have been made with all of them.

Now, for all of those who think they can teach school better than the teachers, where would you put Moises on the intelligence scale?

A Very Brief Look At The Intelligence Quotient

This summary is from Dr. Arthur Jenkin’s book “Straight Talk about Mental Tests”: 

(1) A person with an IQ of 49 or below might be able to be taught to read at the third grade level, but an as adult probably cannot cope with life outside of an institution. They require special classes outside of the normal classroom setting. Two percent, or six million out of 312 million Americans, are in this category.

(2) Persons with an IQ between 50 and 73 generally cannot finish elementary school. Most adults will need assistance in performing routine simple tasks. Slightly over 6.5 percent, or about 20 million Americans, are in this bracket.

(3) Persons with an IQ between 74 and 100 have problems completing a college prep course in high school and will have difficulty with college freshman and sophomore courses. About 41.5 percent, or 130 million, are in this category. Some will graduate from college. The military demands an IQ of 85—but often relaxes that limit if they run short of volunteers!

(4) Persons with an IQ between 100 and 120 will be able to perform complex mechanical tasks and become low-level managers. They may make perfectly adequate teachers and accountants. They involve about 130 million Americans.

(5) Persons with an IQ above 120 and below 132 generally have no restrictions on performance. There are about 20 million in this group. They may have the intelligence for law and executive positions.

(6) Persons with an IQ range of 132 to 150 have no limitations. They may end up being physics and math professors and big-time editors. There about 5.5 million in this group.

(7) Persons above 150 can be in the so-called genius group, like Shakespeare, Lincoln, Einstein, and Isaac Newton. We have about 500,000 in the United States.

Where Do We Put Moises on the IQ Scale?

With this information, how many politicians are ready to teach school at any level? They have no idea what it’s like. Where on the IQ scale would you put our idiot Moises who shot the minister’s daughter? I think he would be around 90 on the IQ scale. At this level people may be able to follow some instructions but not complicated ones. Removing a clip is no big deal, but remembering there might be a round in the chamber reaches the difficult level. Any state that allows people in this category to conceal and carry is asking for deep doo-doo and firearm deaths. In a Pennsylvania incident, a young man knocked on the door of a house where he thought his girlfriend lived. The door never opened for him but he was shot through the door and killed. But that was perfectly OK. Pennsylvania has a “Shoot First” law to cover a person inside his “castle” house. At least in Dodge the parties would go out in the street and slap leather on each other. 

The Republicans in Minnesota, the hired spear-carriers for the National Rifle Association, are trying to pass a law that would require Minnesotans to recognize all out-of-state conceal-and-carry pistol permits. As an example of weak state requirements, Florida has presented 1,400 people already guilty of felonies and another 200 with outstanding arrest warrants with conceal-and-carry permits. Just the kind of armed people we should welcome to Minnesota. One might assume that all of the Minnesota Republican legislators have IQs equal to Moises.

The Minnesota Republicans And The “Cheap Teacher” Bill

The Republicans are also trying to eliminate seniority as the prime reason for keeping teachers on staff during layoffs. They are trying to come up with all kinds of complicated teacher evaluation systems using gains on standardized tests and other secondary criteria to cut staff. This bill has nothing to do with a quality education system. This is strictly an anti-labor, anti-union bill that tries to destroy the only organization that knows anything about education, the teachers. Good teachers are not their priority—cheap teachers are. 

I have been a high school teacher, a personnel director, an elementary principal, a high school principal, and a director of employee relations (negotiations with teachers, secretaries and aides, maintenance, and food service—a total of 28 years at negotiation tables). I have taught administration courses at North Dakota State and Tri-College. I also taught a senior education course at Concordia. I have hired thousands of teachers and other education employees and have supervised thousands, spending 36 years at it. I have a big dog in this fight.

Teaching Is Half Science And Half Art

Schools are not producing widgets to exacting specifications on an assembly line. I repeat, teaching is half science and half art. Let’s look at a sixth grade class of about 30 students using the Bell Curve, which divides us up according to IQ. That class of 30 started out at kindergarten already missing one child because his intelligence quotient was so low he might have to be institutionalized. By the third grade level the class would have lost two more students who would have to be placed in special classes. So now you have 30 students left with IQs between 60 and perhaps 135. In a district the size of Fargo, we may have one student in K-12 with an IQ between 160-175. Alfred Einstein was estimated to fit this category, although he was never given an IQ test in his life. We have to remember that Einstein was considered a “dolt” by members of his own family at the age of three, and later several of his teachers wrote report cards that basically said he would never amount to much. In that only one student out of a million has an IQ between 176 and 200, there probably isn’t one in North Dakota. Minnesota could possibly have another Isaac Newton. In the class of 30, there would be over 20 in the 85 to 115 range, many capable of earning a master’s degree if at the high end. We have a lot of idiots out there who think teaching is easy money with the whole summer off. Get real and start using your IQ. Scientific and artful teaching is one of the great complex challenges in this world. It takes intelligence and experience.

I thought a letter from a teacher in the Star Tribune pointed out why experience is so important: “House Republicans, have I got a deal for you! I’m available to do your taxes (April 15 is fast approaching!), perform that knee surgery you need, represent you in court on that thing that happened, manage your stock portfolio, and design that addition to your house. I’m here to help, I’m enthusiastic and, best of all, I’m cheap! What? I don’t have much experience performing any of these jobs? In most of them, I have none at all. Why do you ask?” But teachers don’t need any experience?

Some Other Aspects Of Teaching 30 Students

Beyond the span of IQ levels in this class of 30, there are some other fascinating social and economic factors to consider. Fourteen of these students qualify for free lunch and breakfast. Six are from families, double or single parents, who are at or below the poverty level. One student is homeless and lives in a van. Four are enrolled in English as a Secondary Language because they come from four different foreign countries. One student has a 125 IQ but has cerebral palsy, requires a wheelchair, and speaks to the teacher through a computer. Two are taking drugs to contain their Attention Deficit Disorder diagnosis. One student is in speech therapy because of a severe stuttering problem. If you think I have made up an unusual class you know nothing about schools and education.

Perhaps you would like to teach in Covington, Kentucky. Every year about one-third of the students change schools and one-fourth of the teachers quit. Slightly under 25 percent of the students are classified as disabled. The district has a deficit of $2.6 million. It has 400 homeless students in classes. Each school has a family resource center where students can stock up on canned food for the weekend and also borrow a clean school outfit from a large clothes closet. Cheap teachers would fit right in in Covington.

Or perhaps as a cheap teacher you could teach at a 5,000-student high school in the middle of Brooklyn, New York. Half of the students have been born outside of the country. Each year 250 immigrants enroll at some time during that year. Separate classes are taught in four languages and the entire school curriculum is taught in Spanish. From the third floor of this high school, a student can see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. She might not have any idea what they represent. Some cheap teachers wouldn’t know either.

Lousy Administrators Usually Mean Lousy Teachers On Board

If you have lousy teachers in your school, it means that you have lousy administrators at the school or in the district who are not doing their jobs. Ineffective teachers should have their weaknesses exposed and be given a reasonable time to improve with concrete suggestions from administrators and mentors. Teacher unions are there to protect members from unwarranted dismissals, nothing more. It is up to administrators to evaluate and document the ability and effectiveness of teachers so they can be discharged legally if necessary, nothing more. Teaching is a tough business these days. “Cheap” doesn’t cut it. Lines from Iris DeMent’s song “Wasteland of the Free” reveals why:

We got preachers dealing in politics and diamond mines

We got politicians running races on corporate cash

We got CEOs making two hundred times the workers’ pay

But they fight like hell against raising the minimum

We got little kids with guns fighting inner city wars, so what do we do,

We put our kids behind prison doors, and we call ourselves an advanced civilization

We got high school kids running around in Calvin Klein and Guess

Who cannot pass a sixth grade reading test, but if you ask them

They can tell you the name of every crotch on MTV

While we sit gloating in our greatness justice sinks to the bottom of the sea

Living in the wasteland of the free, living in the wasteland of the free.