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One school system all we need

Few people have responsibility for the mortal safety of more people than an airline pilot. But the only qualifications for the job are regular physical examinations and considerable experience.

Most of them get their experience in the military. They do not even need a pilot’s license there, just the physical and a training course. Presumably if they crash their planes they do not survive the course, perhaps literally. It seems inevitable that many mediocre pilots manage to complete their tour of duty honorably.

An airline pilot who flew like a fighter jet pilot would likely encounter some criticism, but the transfer of skills would require some adaptation. Fortunately they begin the airline career as copilots, a kind of on-the-job apprenticeship somewhat like being vice president of the U.S. By the way, are you voting for Joe Biden?

Tenure on the job depends on the whims of management. Yes, they have unions. I know nothing about the ability or justice of airline management but there is no reason to expect it to be any better than in any other industry. And until there is a fatal error they have little basis for evaluating pilots.

Ditto for teachers. Advocates of teacher competency testing have no idea of the written competency tests that teachers have to pass even before college, during it and after it. The continuing education lasts throughout the career. The apprenticeship is called student teaching, wherein they are evaluated by journeymen, by curriculum coordinators and principals. It is typically a learning experience and a gauntlet of abuse in random proportions.

My high school principal did not recommend me for retention as an English teacher for the second year. I had heard of that principal when I was a high school student in another school: he was famous for hiding his bottle of booze in the furnace room. He never observed my classes but he found some basis for evaluation. Perhaps he used one of those bottles for a crystal ball. The last time I saw him he was emerging from the liquor store with a brown paper bag in his hand. I would not have worked the next year anyway so it was all good.

Jim Mullen blames federal interference and unions for poor education. I say the opioid epidemic and the economic decline of the middle class have both disrupted family life and degraded the raw material that the school systems have to work with. The economic decline of teachers is part of that problem. And who else is Jim Mullen going to rely upon to report the needs of the school system?

An introductory economics course will tell us that a monopoly is the most efficient organization, which is why we do not have competing fire departments or sewage districts. We restrict the competition for cable TV service and for the boat rides to Blennerhassett Island and we only need one school system.

Michael Ireland

Parkersburg

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