Continually rejecting expert opinions causes harm

I applaud The Hinsdalean’s admonishment (Oct. 21 editorial) of the new District 86 board members’ apparent disdain for the administration’s expert judgment on curriculum and grading matters.

Innovation is needed more than ever in these rapidly changing technological times. My 50 years in complex litigation and working with employers, licensing and credentialing organizations in the health care professions and schools on assessment and testing issues, as well as teaching in law and business school, have convinced me that an integrated approach to science and math, with a heavier emphasis on skills training for practical applications, provides the most useful education.

As to the recent proposal to deemphasize the weight of homework on overall course grading, I do not pretend to have an especially informed opinion. However, from my teaching and consultation on testing issues, I can say that consistent and fair evaluation of homework is very difficult and that standardized testing is the fairest and most accurate assessment of measured ability or mastery. Moreover, high school homework often reflects substantive parental input. Ensuring completion of homework is the parents’ responsibility; evaluation is the school’s role.

I do not argue against community debate, especially on social issues, consistent with academic freedom of speech. But a continued rejection of the professional educators’ expert advice on curriculum and teaching methodology will inevitably make it more difficult to attract and retain the best qualified staff, leading to a deterioration in the quality of the schools. And it provides the wrong example to our children in the pursuit of their education. — Thomas Abram, Hinsdale