Letters to the Editor: Karen Bass’ scholarship problem looks bad. Don’t ignore it.
May 11, 2012
To the Editors:
Karen Bass seems to think that her scholarship problem is the result of bad science, bad teaching, and bad pedagogy. I think it is all of the above.
Bass says, “This article is a serious and important analysis of how we educate science teachers in North Dakota. I am pleased to see that the Department of Education is taking steps to ensure that science teachers have the skills to understand, critique and discuss the social, political and historical aspects of science and technology.”
The department has no concern about whether or not students are learning facts, nor does the department make a judgment about whether or not the teacher is teaching science. It just turns around and says there is a problem with science teachers. Bass ignores a central question: should someone who holds a Ph.D. in a field of the social sciences have a Ph.D. in a field of the physical sciences?
Dr. Mary Kay Bailey, who teaches American history and science, says that “the lack of any formal assessment of the quality of science teachers’ teaching is puzzling.” The National Academy of Education and the American Association of University Professors both say this is the case.
Bass makes a judgment call, and she is a professional whose profession is the education of teachers. She is not qualified to be a scientist or to make an evaluation of science teachers. She can’t make objective assessments; her “critique” shows that her methods are subjective. You can judge her scholarship through the methods she uses. The methods she uses show that her scholarship is “objective” only in the sense that she is not making judgments about the people involved, such as the students, teachers or administrators. The methods she uses are a good sign that her methods are objective: a good teacher uses methods that are consistent, logical, consistent and objective.
The lack of standards for