Amy Sullivan has a bizarre tale:
Under the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, my dad — who taught social studies at an inner-city high school for twenty-seven years and was nationally recognized as an innovative educator — is considered unqualified to teach history courses in the state of Michigan. Yes, he was an award-winning teacher. Yes, he could teach world history/U.S. history/African history in his sleep. Yes, he has spent the past five years as a college instructor, teaching other social studies teachers how to teach. But his undergraduate major was in English, not history. So, according to the high standards of the No Child Left Behind Act, Dad is not allowed in the classroom as a social studies teacher.
What I’d like to know, is who let this man teach history in the first place?! Presumably, if he’s a bright, motivated fellow, he’s taught himself enough history over the years to more than adequately teach high school kids. But history has to be one of the harder subjects to teach, simply because of the vast scope of questions one could receive. By way of contrast, subjects like chemistry and physics, while perhaps “harder” at an advanced level, aren’t naturally going to lead to a whole lot of questions beyond the immediate scope of the assigned problems.
Letting someone without college training in history teach the subject is madness–and would explain why so many kids get to college knowing squat about the subject. What’s especially ironic is that social studies teachers are nigh unemployable unless they can get hired on as an athletic coach and “fill in” as a history teacher. Which is another reason kids get to college not knowing squat about history.
(Hat tip: Kevin Drum)