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    News > In the Headlines

    Letter to the Editor: Some teachers don't have a clue


    By Philip Peffley , Oak Lawn


    Phil Kadner did a good job in his Aug. 13 column, "Teachers can't pass test so state lowers the grade." He mentioned that 56 percent of the teacher candidates passed the social science/history exam for certification. To be honest with you, I am surprised that that many future teachers passed the exam. If letter grades were passed out on the test, I would certainly like to know how many D's there were. Same with the other letter grades.

    When I was teaching in Chicago, I had a teacher come over to my room one morning to ask me something. I was in the middle of writing a story on the board that dealt with St. Patrick's Day (which it was) and she needed a copy of something. A few minutes later I had to go to her room about something and saw that she was writing something down on her board. She had written, "Today is St. Patrick's Day, the day we honor Patrick Henry."

    And then there was the time that one of my children had a question marked wrong because the teacher's edition of the social studies book they were using at the time at St. Linus School was wrong. The question had to do with what was the largest lake in the United States. My daughter put down Lake Michigan and was marked wrong. The TE said it was Lake Superior. Lake Superior is indeed the largest of the Great Lakes but about half of it is in Canada and therefore not the largest lake within the United States. The teacher stuck by the answer in the TE.

    It is truly a shame that you have college graduates entering the teaching profession that can't name the states that border the Pacific Ocean, name the only elected President to be impeached, name the two largest states in area, tell who Hitler was, name the U.S. president who held office during the American Civil War and, as strange as it may seem, tell what year the War of 1812 started.

    Children need to be taught American history and geography in the elementary grades. In high school they still need to be taught American history and geography. World history can be introduced in high school at that time. But the children need to be taught those subjects by qualified teachers who know their subject matter and can get the children interested in history and geography at an early age. The children need to be taken on field trips to Naper Settlement, the Chicago History Museum and even the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. They don't need useless worksheets to color showing the Betsy Ross flag or the cabin that Lincoln was born in.

    Maybe one of these days state boards of education will realize that children in Illinois and the other 49 states do deserve to know more about this country than what they are learning now.

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