Atlanta Out Loud

Politics and rantings and just stuff that catches my attention.

Friday, January 30, 2004

|| 8:58:44 PM
We're Dumb.... And Let's Keep It That Way

Georgia School Superintendent, Kathy Cox, presides over what are arguably the worst government schools in the nation. We have the distinction of being dead last -- numero 50 -- in SAT scores for the past two years.

Now Kathy Cox has decided that the quality of education in Georgia government schools can be vastly improved if they will just remove the word "evolution" from classrooms and textbooks. Instead of "evolution," it will be "biological changes over time." In making her decision, Ms. Cox called "evolution" a "'buzzword' that causes a lot of negative reaction."

"This wasn't so much a religion vs. science, politics kind of issue," Cox said. "This was an issue of how do we ensure that our kids are getting a quality science education in every classroom across the state." Huh? We're going to ensure they get a quality science education by eliminating the very fundamental concepts of an entire body of science known as Biology?

According to the AJC, "The state based the biology curriculum on benchmarks put forward by a respected national source, the American Association for the Advancement of Science. But while Georgia educators copied many sections, such as the nature of cells and inherited characteristics, they deleted most of the standards relating to the origin of living things." That's because, in Georgia, we're just too smart for our own good.

It's a nice little victory for fundamentalists who think the Bible is a scientific textbook, and fodder for those around the rest of the country who like to portray the South as ignorant.

Speaking of Education.... Brains Need Not Apply

This item appeared in the libertarian focused newsletter, The Advocates for Self Government:

by James W. Harris

High Achiever Is "Too Intellectual" to Teach High School

Many Georgia public high schools have serious problems. The state has ranked 50th -- worst in the nation -- in SAT scores for two years in a row.

Given that, you would think aspiring high school teacher Marquis Harris of Atlanta would be a dream-come-true for some lucky school.

As he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"I am a 22-year-old African-American male and recent graduate of a respectable liberal arts college in Kentucky. I acquired a 3.75 grade-point average with a double major in Social Studies Secondary Education and sociology.

"I was a Rhodes Scholar nominee, inducted into the Mensa society in May 2001, named to the National Dean's List for three consecutive years, successfully competed in intercollegiate forensics and served as student body president.

"While in college I was also privileged to serve on mission trips to Mexico, Guatemala and Jamaica. In the summer of 2002 I was granted the opportunity to intern with Saxby Chambliss, who was then a U.S. representative running for the U.S. Senate. I served for two years as a court-appointed special advocate for the state of Kentucky."

"These experiences have proved to be beyond memorable and life changing. I did not become another faceless statistic of a failed minority or foster care youth. I chose to take charge of my future rather than allow myself to fall prey to the alluring, though deceiving, clutches of victimhood."

With such an outstanding record of achievement, opportunities would seem to be limitless for Harris. At first he had planned to attend law school.

After some thought, however, he decided to pursue a career as a school teacher. "I came to realize that my true calling lay in inspiring, motivating, challenging and educating other young adults."

So he applied to numerous public (government) schools in and around Atlanta -- without success.

"Certification was not the issue. I am certified to teach in Kentucky and have applied for certification in Georgia."

So what *was* the issue? Why didn't some Georgia high school grab this high-achieving, highly-motivated young black man?

Could it be that he's... too successful, too smart?

"[I]t appears that my achievements have proved to be a liability rather than an asset," Harris says.

Case-in-point: after an interview at one school, he received the following email from the principal:

"Though your qualifications are quite impressive, I regret to inform you that we have selected another candidate. It was felt that your demeanor and therefore presence in the classroom would serve as an unrealistic expectation as to what high school students could strive to achieve or become. However, it is highly recommended that you seek employment at the collegiate level; there your intellectual comportment would be greatly appreciated. Good luck."

Harris says: "After reading the email several times over, I felt as if I had been slapped in the face. It is truly a sad day in the world of education when a 22-year-old aspiring educator is informed that he is too intellectual to teach high school."

How comforting it must be to Atlanta-area parents to realize that, while many schools are failing to teach basic skills, at least some are working hard to spare young people from having "unrealistic expectations" (as the principal put it) as to what they might achieve in life.

(Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Brains Can Hurt Job Applicants")


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