For starters, if you are teacher reading this blog, I beseech you to ask yourself whether you are a dedicated professional committed to your craft, or whether you are a self-serving union drone with an overpowering sense of entitlement? You can’t be both, and over the next few years, you will be forced to choose sides.
This nation cannot afford the financial and social cost of America’s schools system. Not in the city. Not in the suburbs. Teacher or not, read these articles. This system MUST be transformed.
First, this should be obvious, but why do we believe we need MORE teachers? What if we need less? What if all of us can become “teachers” in some way or fashion, reducing the need to pay people to do what we might do for free?
As I explain in Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning, we need fewer teachers, not more, and those few teachers must reach thousands of students at a time. Fortunately, this possibility, once remote, is now arriving with a speed as rapid as that of the avatar-laden space ship zeroing in on the planet Pandora. As we enter the world of high-powered notebook computers, broadband internet connections, 3-dimensional curricula, open-source product development, and internet-based games, both co-operative and competitive, students will learn by accessing dynamic, interactive instructional materials that provide information to each student at the level of accomplishment he or she has reached.
Today, millions of students in brick-and-mortar classrooms are either bored because they already know the material being presented or confused because it is far beyond their contemporary level of comprehension. Teaching algebra to someone who cannot divide just doesn’t work.
Solving the teaching problem does not mean hiring millions of better teachers but finding new ways of reaching students directly. Teachers can then be used as coaches to help students access curricula created by the world’s most brilliant pedagogues–who in some cases may turn out to be students themselves.
Next up, this too should be obvious, but why go through all the rigmarole of “training teachers to be good” when we can simply identify the best ones and pay them accordingly?
Decades ago progressive reformers persuaded states and districts to put school boards under tight controls when they hired and paid teachers–on the theory that they would otherwise appoint their friends and neighbors to the job and pay them according to their political connections. Teachers could be hired only if they had a state-certified teaching license earned at a school of education. After a few years, teachers were given tenure and could be removed only by means of a complex, quasi-legal process. Salaries were based solely on their academic credentials and teaching experience, not according to the whim of any supervisor.
Now we are learning that almost every one of these decisions was wrong-headed. A just-released paper prepared by Matthew M. Chingos and myself for a Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance conference on merit pay (which will take place on June 3-4) shows that Florida teachers who majored in education in college are no better at teaching math and reading to elementary- and middle-school students than those who did not. Even those teachers who attended the most selective universities in Florida, such as the state’s flagship university, the University of Florida, are no better at lifting student performance in reading and math than those who attended Florida’s less prestigious institutions. Nor can we identify any benefit from earning a master’s degree, despite the fact that school districts tend to pay 8 percent to 10 percent more to teachers who hold such a degree.
This article shows that certification is a scam. It’s a union card. If you think about it, the process is designed to screen out the talented, and “equalize” any talented people brave enough to stay.
It would be great to see the Good Guys win this one. There is no intellectually sound case for K-12 Teacher Tenure. Precipitate a strike. Fire them all.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration says it wants to remake public education around the principle that the best teachers should be promoted and rewarded, regardless of seniority.
And a brawl over just that idea is now playing out in the shadow of the White House.
[Note from Bruno - Obama will end up on the side of the Unions. Just watch.]
Ms. Rhee is trying to reduce what she believes to be a bloated school management and wrest more control over the district’s affairs from the powerful local teachers’ union. She has replaced principals, laid off teachers and closed underperforming schools.
She has also challenged what she feels is one of the biggest impediments to improvement: tenure, or strong job protections for teachers. The idea is to promise teachers much richer salaries, as well as performance bonuses, if they give up tenure. Good performers would be rewarded, poor performers gotten rid of.
In September, the 39-year-old Ms. Rhee, citing a looming budget gap, laid off nearly 400 school employees, including 266 teachers. The dismissals came weeks after Ms. Rhee finished hiring 934 new teachers over the summer. Ms. Rhee said she was initiating the layoffs based on “quality, not by seniority.”
The Washington Teachers’ Union filed a grievance and a lawsuit against the district over the layoffs, calling them “a blatant violation” of the union contract and a pretext for dismissing veterans without proper cause, which the district denies.
The feud has turned into a grudge match between Ms. Rhee and Randi Weingarten, head of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of Teachers, which has intervened directly in the local contract dispute. Ms. Rhee “has so poisoned the environment that I am not sure that we can ever get back to a good situation here,” said Ms. Weingarten.
I’d pass on offering “richer salaries” and just force the tenure issue, but Rhee deserves credit regardless. As for the ‘poisoned environment,’ that’s a howler coming from the unions that have poisoned every possible education reform with their lies and greed.
Again. Precipitate the strikes. Fire them all. At 10%+ unemployment, there are plenty who will fill the ranks. It’s time to crush these people.
Providing tenure to K-12 teachers is absurd.
Michelle and Barack Obama revealed Friday that their daughters will go to the private Sidwell Friends School when they all move to the White House. This was disappointing to the local teachers union, which had hoped the new First Parents would send their girls to Washington schools (as the Carters did to poor Amy) to show their faith in public education. Fat chance.
Though the Washington schools’ per-pupil spending rate is among the nation’s highest; its student test scores are among the lowest. Sound familiar? It’s no mystery why Sasha, a 2nd grader, and Malia, a 5th grader, have attended the private University of Chicago Lab Schools.
Hired in 2007 to turn the Washington schools around, Chancellor Michelle Rhee jumped in with both feet, firing ineffective principals, closing schools and aggressively recruiting talented teachers. Now she has taken aim at teacher tenure and seniority—contract provisions that make it hard for schools to hire and keep good instructors or to get rid of bad ones.
Teacher pay is based almost exclusively on degrees held and years spent in the classroom, neither of which has proved to be a great predictor of student achievement. Teaching assignments are made largely on seniority, which channels the least experienced teachers into the most challenging jobs. The good teachers look for work elsewhere; the bad ones never leave.
Teacher tenure is an insane policy. It is 100% intellectually unsupportable.