Tuesday, August 25, 2009

addendum to previous post

Taken from a comment on this article about teacher layoffs:

Public education does as much to grind the love of teaching out of adults as it grinds the love of learning out of our children.

The fault lies at the hands of an entrenched bureaucracy with a bunker mentality. The greybeards that rule over our educational system, both teachers AND administrators, are so married to their methods and their culture that they are incapable of progress or change even when it hurts their own people. The union is not so much the mastermind as it is the truncheon wielding hitman of the petty tyrants who value conformity over excellence.

It's no wonder the youngest teachers are the first to go. It's a sure bet that those empty lifers that call the shots are just as threatened by new blood and new ideas as they are jealous of the joy that hasn't yet been beaten out of Mr. Persse [a new teacher who just lost his job] and others like him.

DAMN. Aside from being a great example of skillfully-used vocabulary, what a badass quote! Though I'd never quite thought of the teacher's union as a "truncheon wielding hitman," I wonder how true that is? It seems like the position of the union is to "protect" teachers, but how best does one do that? By simply cutting the new ones--many of whom bring vitality, energy, new ideas, new optimism--so as to retain those who have been there the longest? But it doesn't make sense to just cut the older teachers, either, as if once you've been in the profession for too long you automatically become jaded and burnt out. And as there is no precedent for any kind of merit decisions, it seems unlikely that they'd suddenly be able to say okay, the best teachers according to x rubric get to stay, everyone else is gone.

I hate to say it because I'm inherently suspicious of merit benefits that are all too easy to link to meaningless test scores, but I wonder if we need to head in that direction. At least that way maybe we'd have some way of making sure that if we ever have any kind of crisis that necessitates depleting the work force, at least we're not totally screwing over the system as a short-term fix to a much larger problem.


aimee said...

Amen. I would love to tell you more about a project Chalkboard is working on--it supports and rewards highly effective teaching in a meaningful way without linking test scores to teacher pay.

* * * said...

yes! Let's chat about it! I'm highly intrigued as to this meaningful rewarding that doesn't include test scores...