Sunday, September 29, 2013

Patrick Welsh's Valedictory

Patrick Welsh, having taught English for 43 years at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, retired in June, and summed up some of the difficulties he encountered in an article in The Washington Post. These difficulties were those brought on by educational fads.

Owing to the chances (and by now remoteness) of my schooling, I missed a lot of fads. I was of an age to see the New Math for a year or two, but I don't think that I paid close enough attention for it to cause me any harm. Welsh's unfortunate students suffered through Effective Schools, SPONGE, SBE, the seven Cs, and probably three or four more fads he lacked room to mention. (Of course these did not all occur together; most students were in school only long enough for one or two fads.)

The article also reminds me that the position of school superintendent can be as chancy and itinerant as any in America above the status of day laborer, athletics coach excepted. Coaches the boosters tire of seem to get better buyouts, but I have heard of district superintendents doing pretty well.

I trust that Welsh will enjoy his retirement. I have always enjoyed his articles in the Post.

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