In 2008 my site Improve-Education.org proclaimed Jay Leno "The Educator of the Year." This was a bit of a promotional stunt; it was also grimly serious.
Public education in the US is a field disfigured by hidden ideology, dumb theories, and low performance. In this arena, Jay Leno stands out like a brave knight in silver armor.
As the Proclamation dramatically stated: "Whereas Jay Leno, via the Tonight Show segment called JAYWALKING, has done more than anyone else in the USA to promote the improvement of education; whereas Jay Leno has highlighted the lowering of standards and the flight from knowledge in the public schools; whereas Jay Leno has dramatized the need for more attention to hard facts and significant information; whereas Jay Leo has caused many school teachers and administrators to turn red with shame, and resolve to do better; whereas Jay Leno has shown many parents what exactly was missing in the education of their children, and that reform in the schools is much needed; whereas Jay Leno is an inspiration to all true teachers and educators; whereas, in all these instances, Jay Leno has rendered exceptional public service to the citizens of the United States, he is hereby designated the Educator of the Year."
Know what? Absolutely nothing has changed. Every word in the Proclamation remains precisely true. In education today Jay Leno remains "The Man." So do not doubt that the praise is sincere and deserved. But still we have to ask, how could it be that Jay Leno, a comic and entertainer, is the country's Number One Educator? How did we come to such a state that a comedian is pointing the way in education? Why aren't the country's political and cultural leaders doing this job? Where are the movers and shakers, the captains of industry, the financiers, the generals in the Pentagon? Why can none of these people jolt the Education Establishment into doing a better job? Why does it seem that nobody is really trying? So that, by default, Jay Leno becomes the indispensable man?
My own sense is that American public education is much more 1) politicized, 2) isolated, and 3) ossified than people normally realize. It appears to function more like a religion than an intellectual enterprise. Does the Pope care what you think about religious matters? Similarly, does the Education Establishment care what you think about educational matters? Not even a smidgen. I suspect we'll have change only when the public angrily demands it. Or Donald Trump has a meeting with the top 1000 education commissars and says, "You're fired." One thing is sure: we desperately need new people at the top and new thinking. Jay Leno shows us why.
For background on the original Educator of the Year award and related articles, visit: http://www.improve-education.org/id50.ht...RE: DYSLEXIA.
My only quibble with Jay Leno is his casual references to his supposed dyslexia. He speaks as if it's a genetic given. That is, of course, the official view of the so-called reading experts who have so far managed to create 50 million functional illiterates and, as well, 1 million dyslexics. In short, Leno may not have a genetic condition at all. He may have a set of bad habits given to him by sight-word reading instruction. As Siegfried Engelmann, one of our great educators, noted: "What dyslexia? I call it dysteachia." It would be great if Leno read up on his condition, realized that faulty teaching might be part of his problem, and helped others in the same condition. (In a few words: phonics experts maintain that when children try to memorize words as designs or configurations, these kids will invariably start to exhibit symptoms of dyslexia; because English words are phonetic objects, confusingly similar in appearance, that were NEVER intended to be memorized as visual designs.) For more about reading, see "42: Reading Resources" on Improve-Education.org