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View Diary: Why Obama's New Teacher Incentive Pay Will Take Education Backward (254 comments)

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  •  The current system does NOT work (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock, Jerry J, RainyDay

    Having survived dealing with the public education system through HS, and with a half dozen relatives and friends teaching, it's clear that the current system does NOT work .
    It rewards length of service and 'racking up additional credits' - which may or may not have anything to do with improving teaching and results.  Once a teacher has tenure, it is near impossible to hold them accountable for poor performance and get rid of them.

    Being told that a teacher is teaching a given class (if 'teaching' is the term for showing videos and little else) because 'It is where they can do the least amount of damage' is horrifying - and real.  MY oldest's health teacher was a waste of time and effort - showing unrelated movies to take up class - a class kids HAD to take though apparently the content was NOT mandated.

    I've seen teachers who DISCOURAGED kids from trying harder books in elem school, others who 'forgot' to teach the science and social studies components of the year.  

    I've seen dedicated and amazing younger teachers fail to get tenure or leave for better districts while older non-performing ones stay on and wait out retirement.

    Real 'professionals' do not seek refuge in rules granting them near permanent employment - I never had such protection and nobody I know in any other professional field has it.

    In one case I saw a teacher who quite obviously started doing as little as possible as soon as they got tenure.  

    When there are layoffs, seniority rules - younger talented teachers are sacrificed to keep older nones regardless of their performance.

    Being blunt, I have a sil who took up teaching BECAUSE it was 'less work' than  the fast track management program they were in.  They wanted 'summers off' and shorter hours.  

    Another friend worked in NYC - was a great teacher in a mediocre school and was a real benefit - working with various after school programs and clubs.  She was laid off and replaced with an older more senior teacher who did none of what she did.

    I do NOT believe in the focus on tests and such but there seems to be NO relationship at all to actual performance right now in teaching.  

    WORSE. schools seem to have developed layer upon layer of UNNEEDED administrative staff - at the expense of spending funds on direct instruction.

    Some department heads are great and do a good job coordinating teachers and developing curriculum but others seem to be stuck in such spots simply to get them out of a classroom.

    My oldest graduated at the top of his class IN SPITE of some teachers - ever have to go in and show a teacher that THEY were wrong and your kid was right, apparently knowing far more than they did?  

    We faced administrators who were incompetent (Scheduling is a recurring issue - with the school system dealing with the few who pay attention and DO make a fuss while too many kids are left out of classes or put in the wrong ones but their parents don't notice )   Our youngest - a junior - for the first time - has all 'good' teachers. In the past there was always ONE who was a 'joke'   And if you don't think that the kids don't know all this.....     they know who's good - and WANT those teachers (and respect them) while they know who's bad - those teachers only hurt the profession and damage its image.

    Life isn't fair but you should try to leave it fairer than you found it.

    by xrepub on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 02:25:19 AM PDT

    •  how sanctimonious (12+ / 0-)

      And condescending can you get? The teachers I've had the pleasure to work with are not only competent, but compassionate and hard working. Lately (and this has not been usual in the past) the new teachers are the ones who feel they don't need to work for their pay. You seem to take the word of your kids as gospel, most parents would take it with a grain of salt, and chalk it up to whiny kid syndrome. Anyone who thinks teaching is less work, btw, is not doing their job, and should be put in the category you so sneeringly put most teachers.

      “The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return.” - Gore Vidal R.I.P

      by eashep on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 03:02:11 AM PDT

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    •  Yes, I admit it (17+ / 0-)

      I am a self-centered, selfish, lazy incompetent who cares only for money and having the summers off.

      Let's compare education with other professions.

      Health care. Rated as low as 37th in the world. We have the best health care that money an buy. Unfortunately more and more people can't afford it and are falling through the cracks.

      The justice system. We're number one - in incarceration. Consistently. The system is a game. It isn't working and yet we continue to do more of the same. Again, we provide the best justice that money can buy.

      Business. Educators are continually told that we should run education like a business. Are they referring to the system that has produced extremes in wealth, outsourced work,  created the worst economic crisis in decades, where there is little accountability, and where business leaders are rewarded despite the dismal record? That's the system we should emulate? What a joke.

      As an educator, I will be happy to put our record against the records of those three professions.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 03:47:03 AM PDT

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      •  And you would lose (0+ / 0-)

        Health care - When half of the patients assigned to a nurse die of infection, he/she gets fired.  Half your kids do not read up to grade level, and you get a raise and guaranteed job.

        Business - any professional that still has a job in this economy is working his/her ass off just to keep it.  The successful ones are working evenings and weekends, and coming up with new ideas, methods and procedures to make their companies more efficient and profitable.  Teachers?  They go on strike like here in Chicago because how dare the public want them to be accountable.. and how dare the public not be satisfied that only 40% of their kids even graduate?

        Your record? Your record is the report card those kids are taking home.  The collective record of teachers in this country is abysmal.

      •  Preach on! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slatsg, ladybug53, caul

        Not to mention outside of our impoverished schools, US schools are still considered the best in the world.

        I take political action every day. I teach.

        by jbfunk on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:27:57 AM PDT

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    •  The places where the current system doesn't (10+ / 0-)

      work almost entirely are places in dire social economic straits.

      In places where median family income is above average it is very difficult to find a completely dysfunctional public school district.

      The point being, factors beyond the schools themselves and how they are run are largely responsible for the perceived and actual success of the schools

      •  Poverty. The cause that no one wants to address. (10+ / 0-)

        We're happy to spend millions on everything but the cause of failing schools.   Can anyone show me a failing school, hell even a below average school in a school district with <10% in living in poverty?

        Until we address that issues that poverty creates for children, all this other "reform" is just a waste of time and money simply because it will only create anecdotal success leaving room for more "reform".

        "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

        by Back In Blue on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 08:18:19 AM PDT

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    •  Most (9+ / 0-)

      Of your complaintsare about the system and the bureacracy yet your predrawn conclusion is teachers are at fault.  You then present anecdotal evidence of select poor teachers and "people you know" to paint broad brush strokes.  Your children clearly had good teachers as well.  You do realize that no matter what system is implemented, there will be some teachers who are not as good.  That is true of every profession.  Finally I don't think you fully comprehend what has happened to education the past 10 years in regards to all of the education reform that has been applied in the classroom.  High School teachers are essentially being forced to turn our classrooms into elementary classrooms.  Elementary teachers are being forced to abandon teaching basic skills such as number facts and grammar in the name of crackpot intructional methods that do very little students.  We as teachers know these are bad for the students but are powerless to question them.  So dont lecture me or other teachers about bad teachers when I and thousands of other teachers are being forced to use poor teaching methods and faulty pedagogy.  

      I take political action every day. I teach.

      by jbfunk on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:26:06 AM PDT

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    •  Complete and Utter Crap! (6+ / 0-)
      Once a teacher has tenure, it is near impossible to hold them accountable for poor performance and get rid of them.
      This is complete crap.  Any incompetent teacher can be removed from the classroom within a year (or two at most) IF the administrators do their damn job documenting and attempting to remediate the problem.

      Tenure/unions don't guarantee employment - they just guarantee due process rights, ensuring that administrators can't summarily fire you without justification.

      Show me any "bad" teacher who has been around forever, and I'll show you a whole chain of administrators who haven't done their job in improving or moving them out.

      That's what you get when admins typically move to a new school every 3-5 years as they scramble up the district ladder with no accountability for all the poor tenure and evaluation decisions they've left behind them.

      But thanks for sharing that right-wing talking point.

      •  Minor addition in your post (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul, maf1029, elfling

        You can either show them that chain of administrators or you can show them the bad teacher's winning record as a varsity football or boys basketball coach.

        Way more powerful than tenure in our high schools. The bad teachers I saw in 16 years of teaching were all varsity head coaches of those two marquee sports.

        One step to change is to scale back the importance of sports in our high schools.  

    •  Despite your anecdotes... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, maf1029, elfling

      Many of the rest of us have matching anecdotes to show that 'the current system works just fine'... for many of us.  I had many great teachers, admins who cared, and schools that did good jobs, in spite of aging facilities.

      The reality is that there are some crappy schools and some crappy admins and some crappy teachers, just as there are crappy professionals in all fields, and crappy workplaces in all fields, and that to impose one size fits all 'reform' on everyone to try and improve the bad ones like you encountered will end up making most of the rest worse.

    •  I am sorry your experiences have been so (0+ / 0-)

      difficult.

      One thing to understand is that teachers in every district have a different contract, one negotiated by the teachers in that district, the superintendent, and the school board. All parties must consent to it. The school board is elected and is the voice of the community.

      Thus, not all districts have the difficulties and issues you describe.

      If the schools in your community are in this much distress, there are avenues to change them, starting with attendance at the local school board meetings. Board members notice when people come, and more so if they make thoughtful comments.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 09:45:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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