A New Meaning To Senior Year

A Plan To Improve Education

A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney :


President Bush says one of his most important goals is to improve education in America. I'd like to help the president with two suggestions.

  • First, don't let colleges close for four months a year. They stop teaching in late May and don't start up again until well into September - with several weeks off at various times during the rest of the year, for what they call a break. Give us a break. If a company took that much time off, they'd go out of business.

    Cut down on the time public schools take off, too. Six weeks’ summer vacation is plenty.

  • Second, end the teacher shortage. I'm talking shortage of both numbers and quality. Every one of us has had two or three great teachers. We've had dozens of teachers who were pretty good, and we've had two or three who were so bad they should have been fired. I'll bet good teachers would agree that there are a lot of bad teachers, too.
Now, here's my idea for getting more good teachers. There are 35 million people in the United States over 65 years old, and 90 percent of them used to work and don't any more. They're retired. They're finding different ways to waste the hours of the day until it's time to go to bed.

How did the idea of retirement ever get so popular? People ask if I'm going to retire. I am not going to retire, and I've never understood why anyone with all his marbles would. I may not have all of them; I still have most of my marbles.

One argument is that old people ought to retire to make room for young people. Dumb. It suggests there's a limited amount of work to be done in the world. There's an unlimited amount of work to be done. We'll never finish it.

It's ridiculous for a smart, successful, educated person to be playing games all day when we need good teachers. They have social insecurity.

There are something like 2.5 million teachers in this country. We should fire 10 percent of them, give the other 90 percent a big raise and hire a million retired people to add to their numbers.

A person 65 years old might teach for 15 or 20 years. They'd have something to offer young students that the students can't get from anyone else, because there are things you can only know by having lived a long time.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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