Here's an interesting true story regarding teacher training and criteria.
Parent activist: we had this teacher in our Japanese immersion program, a native Japanese, whom the parents and students likewise adored. Her students were actually doing better in math than those with other teachers. Her students were motivated. Given this was an elementary school teacher, she taught all subjects. She had done so successfully for three years. Successfully as judged by student and parent satisfaction, student test results.
This parent is not me. He's a smart guy for sure, has worked for government labs (Sandia), knows psychometrics / statistics, respected as a coach at Nike most recently (Nike has a reputation for appreciating smarts, Intel too, both local employers). He adores his kids. His wife is a PhD chemist and member of a native American tribe. The school greatly benefits from this family's participation in its community.
The school, elementary, has a Japanese immersion program.
Anyway, there's this recertification test teachers need to take every so often, or maybe that's a new policy. In any case, it turns out in Oregon the teachers get herded through a testing experience that Oregon bureaucrats have seen fit to outsource to a UK-based firm. No other private companies are allowed to compete for at least five years, says the contract. Teachers submit to body searching at the testing site and are warned that questioning procedures is likely to adversely affect their scores. They're forced to pay for the privilege, to keep a license in Oregon.
The parent activist solicited State offices for records of any complaints against the private testing czar that Oregon has apparently sold out to. He was charged money but given some records. This company has an iron fist in other states as well apparently, or at least there've been lawsuits. There was one for bias, stating the test was culturally biased, and the company lost on that one. Do Oregonian legislators know anything of this? Public schools are firing teachers based on a test that other states have found to be deeply flawed?
Here we have a Japanese person who maybe doesn't know the fifth US president. She can Google it up, as she can any number of trivial facts. But when it comes to a closed testing environment with no Google, it turns out she doesn't have sufficient recall of the kinds of trivia one needs to please this UK company. The low score goes back to the State and the State, in its infinite wisdom, applies its automatic cut offs, its low pass filters. The bureaucrats assume Americans will take this meekly and mildly, usually a safe assumption in this land of the cowed, obsequious and afraid.
These parents, now missing a teacher, are curious though. About 75 of them. How can a whole school of people be over-ruled by some foul bureaucrats in bed with some UK private empire? Why is the faculty makeup of this public / community school being determined by people who write SAT tests or whatever? Who needs them? What business is it of theirs?
I'm taking the parents' side. I find it scandalous that Oregon is in the grip of such incompetent bureaucrats and their paymasters. Any test is bound to have its exceptions and people get paid at some level to exercise judgment. Applying rules in a mindless exceptionless manner is NOT intelligent, though it's what judges have been forced to do with "three strikes" etc. The rule-minded want to run the world mindlessly, according to spreadsheets and their formulae. They don't want to have to really *think*. They are anti thinking. And they're trying to control the public schools.
This would be Haim's "education mafia" I'm pretty sure. Lots of big private capitalist companies are benefiting though. I never understood why he thought this EM was "socialist". Is the Mafia socialist? Well, in looking out for family interests maybe. It's far from obvious though.