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Group of children standing in classroom
This year's students are the workers of five or 10 or 15 years from now. There's an obvious statement for you, but it's one that is too rarely considered in discussions of education policy as hedge funders and corporate billionaires try to claim the mantle of doing what's right for kids, implying or saying straight out that teachers are too self-interested to represent kids and should be left out of the discussion altogether. The fundamental question is this: If you don't trust Wall Street or the Walton family to do what's in your best interest as an adult in the American workforce, why would you trust them to do what's in the best interest of the next generation of workers?

School, from the first day we set foot in a classroom to graduation from the highest level of education we achieve, trains us to be workers not only by teaching us math and grammar but by teaching us how to respond to instructions, orders, or discipline. It teaches us how to sit still, how to show that we're making the kind of effort our superiors want to see from us, how to work toward socially approved goals. For many jobs and careers, school gives us training or credentials we need. The level and quality of education we get to a great extent determines what jobs we'll be considered for, how likely we are to be unemployed, how much money we'll earn.

So the structure of education in our country trains kids for what to expect as adults and says a lot about how we envision work and people's access to good jobs. Deprive schools of funding and you're creating a generation that doesn't have the education needed to succeed. Or, you're creating a big chunk of a generation that doesn't have the education needed to succeed—some kids' families will be able to buy them a better education directly, some kids will live in well-to-do areas where the schools remain well-funded or where wealthy parents can subsidize public schools heavily.

This then sets up the conditions to justify not hiring people. Already we hear about how there just aren't enough skilled workers and that companies want to hire, honest they do, they just can't find trained workers to do the skilled jobs for which they're offering to pay a pittance. Or we hear how companies have to move jobs overseas, because, again, American workers just can't hack it in the information economy. It's mostly an excuse anyway, but you think that's going to get any better in 20 years if our public education system is gutted now?

If you create a class of schools that, while theoretically public, can effectively exclude homeless kids or disabled kids or kids whose first language isn't English, and leave all those excluded kids in the public schools you're telling everyone are second best, you send a message about who's desirable as students and who will remain desirable as workers. If a state happens to funnel its entire school maintenance budget to that separate class of schools, the message is reinforced again. If you tell everyone that the new class of schools is better (even if in fact the evidence suggests otherwise), but there aren't enough spaces for everyone, you send the message starting ever earlier in kids' lives that they are disposable, that some of them will be left behind no matter what. Public schooling should send the opposite message—that all kids deserve a good education, an equal education, that the government is invested in all of them and that they can all succeed.

But in America today, our public schools are not just underfunded. We're not just losing schoolteachers at an astonishing rate. We're not just setting up new classes of education rife with abuses and with profit put before educational outcomes. We're not just turning education over to profit-driven, ill-supervised testing companies despite a host of weaknesses from measurement error to cheating. No, we're doing all of this thanks in large part to a massively funded campaign by a bunch of really rich people who think they know better because they're rich. We're letting phone tappers and people whose money comes from a company that leads the field in undermining local economies and driving down wages and benefits fund the remaking of our system of public education.

Then there's higher education, where at the same time as a college degree becomes a near-requirement for entry into the middle class, per-student government spending is at a 25-year low and the number of administrators, and their pay, has shot up, while the number of faculty who actually teach students, and their pay, has lagged behind the administrators. As public higher education becomes a more difficult option, for-profit colleges step in to fill the void, not by being cheaper or better but by marketing themselves more aggressively despite abysmal results. Students, meanwhile, are forced to take on more and more loan debt to get that college degree, meaning they enter the workforce already desperate, to the benefit of employers who can capitalize on that desperation to keep workers who might otherwise move on or fight back.

So while I believe that teachers are important—important because they are the ones in the classrooms every day, doing an incredibly difficult job for not very much money and because they are an important part of a middle class that Republicans are trying to wipe out of existence—I understand and write about education as a labor issue not just because Mitt Romney's top education priority is to break teachers unions, but because Mitt Romney's next education priority, one he can only get to after breaking the unions, is to privatize public education, weakening it as a public good that serves everyone close to equally and instead bringing profit in, creating more and more unequal outcomes. I write about education as a labor issue because when Romney tells teachers class size doesn't matter, even though he sent his own sons to a school with an average class size of 12, that's class warfare from above in a nutshell. Class size only matters if you can pay for it to be small. If you can't, screw you, your kids will be in the swollen classes that result from firing their teachers.

Similarly, Romney slashed higher education funding while governor of Massachusetts, pushing more students into debt—not something his own trust fund babies ever had to worry about. I use Romney as an example, but of course it's not just him, it's his party. Rep. Todd Akin, running for Senate from Missouri, referred to federal involvement in student loans as "the stage three cancer of socialism." Rep. Paul Ryan, who paid for college with Social Security benefits, wants to cut Pell Grants for a million students. Rep. Virginia Foxx has "little tolerance" for people with student loans, but champions the for-profit college industry that owes its existence to, and relentlessly seeks to maximize, those loans. And so on.

Education is a labor issue because it's how we train children to someday be workers, determining many of the conditions under which young adults enter the workforce. It's a labor issue because school funding represents an investment, or a failure to invest, in the mass of people. Abandoning them as children, whether by underfunding the schools they attend or putting corporate profits first, is basically a guarantee they'll face worse as adults.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 04:55 PM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I do care about teachers. (7+ / 0-)

    But let's face it. Some people see it as solely a labor issue.

    •  This needs to go a step further... (5+ / 0-)

      Teaching is also a part of our infrastructure. Like our crumbling highways & bridges, education is being neglected in the name of budget cuts and profits (because we know that schools must be managed on a business model).

      I was at my HS for 38yrs (27 in the classroom) and it is not the same anymore. It's not a 'home' anymore like it used to be. And at the end (I retired this year), I felt that I was of no value to the school or the district. Just another old teacher to get rid of so we don't have to pay them that big salary (ha!)

      It's not going to get better because the current attitude is that people are a liability, not an asset. And they are treated as such.

      Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

      by rreabold on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 06:35:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm sure I'd be exactly where I am, all on my own, without those meddlesome knowledge-pushers trying to make me "learn" things. Dinosaurs came tens of...millions...of years ago? How the hell did humans ride them, then?

      What a waste of money. You don't see enlightened countries like Somalia, with their gun rights and general freedom, supporting all this public education crap! They even support free-market liberation of trespassing naval vessels.

    •  Who are these "some people?" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      holeworm, seabos84

      Can you clarify what you mean by this?

      •  Well, for one... (0+ / 0-)

        All those folks who just see those "meddlesome government unions" and their supposedly-awesome "union benefits" and all that.

        Seriously, that's what one of my Libertarian friends calls them. "Meddlesome government unions." This friend thinks they are "hurting" and "undermining" corporations through "bullying" and other stupid crap. He thinks his personal taxes would be lower if teachers and other government employees couldn't "interfere with the free market."

        Of course, that friend and people like him would love to see a fully-privatized teach-whatever-BS system, since obviously education and profit go hand in hand, or something.

        (Said friend works in the financial sector, went to private schools, and is very well compensated for what he does. Stereotypical? Maybe, but it's the fact in this case.)

        •  Good post. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling

          I often wonder what message it sends to students when we say the people who organize and facilitate their education - their teachers - should be underpaid, with little or no benefits, and have as little autonomy as possible.

          Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth. - Lucy Parsons

          by cruz on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:58:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm making it THEIR kid's education the 1st day (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling

      of school with numbers.  As a middle school education teacher, I am being "given" $100 as my full year 2012-2013 budget to run a science classroom for a year for 120 students.

      Yep, that's 83 cents for your kid to have labs, materials, etc for the entire year!  

      Sooo, on the first day of school, my students are taking home a permission slip to participate in a fundraiser to sell chocolate door-to-door so we freaking so science -- with a full explanation of why it's needed (83 cents for the entire year).  Hey, your kid doesn't have to help out and it won't absolutely go against their grade ... it's all voluntary, but you can just donate a check!  

      Yeah, folks.  Your public school teachers are getting really good at fundraising and begging to just be able to our jobs. Even with the fundraiser, I'll be spending between 1-2 thousand a year outof my $44K to run my classroom with lbs for my students ( a bit of union myth busting as I fei9l 5

      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

      by bkamr on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:24:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  even as a one-room schoolhouse, (6+ / 0-)

    the cultural work of teaching as knowledge transfer/diffusion is a form of reproducible labor shared by students and teachers, even if you as an individual or a social class don't think much of the humanities or vocational-technical training compared to the natural/physical sciences because they all have material value as collective human effort and energy that occurs in a public sphere. If you can believe this....thank a teacher.

    Education is a labor issue because it's how we train children to someday be workers, determining many of the conditions under which young adults enter the workforce. It's a labor issue because school funding represents an investment, or a failure to invest, in the mass of people. Abandoning them as children, whether by underfunding the schools they attend or putting corporate profits first, is basically a guarantee they'll face worse as adults.

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Ensanguining the skies...Falls the remorseful day".政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:10:16 PM PDT

  •  And our students will be competing (15+ / 0-)

    with students from countries where only the best and the brightest can become teachers.  The government pays for the teachers to go to school and offers a living stipend.  Teachers are revered.

    It boggles.

    ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

    by slowbutsure on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:11:44 PM PDT

    •  College educations are paid for also; we're #1 @ (6+ / 0-)

      Saying we're #1.

      We're stupid.

      The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

      by a2nite on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:23:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Which countries are these? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slowbutsure
      And our students will be competing with students from countries where only the best and the brightest can become teachers.
      What countries are these?  I'm not aware of any country where teachers are the "best and the brightest" by the standards they use for measuring students.
      •  Finland, for one (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mokurai, slowbutsure

        Only one of eight applicants to teacher education programs is accepted; ...

        One of the reasons for that reverence is how hard it is to become a teacher in Finland. Only one of eight applicants to teacher education programs is accepted; each teacher has a master’s degree. “The best and the brightest want to become teachers in Finland,” says Keith Krueger, CoSN’s CEO. “In [the USA] higher education system, the bottom third of the students are becoming teachers.

        Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

        by bobtmn on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 05:39:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting... but not quite what I asked (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          slowbutsure

          Got any evidence, for example, that teachers have higher GPAs than bankers in Finland?

          •  Generally speaking (0+ / 0-)

            in Europe teaching is a career path that is hard to get into, pays well, is unionized, and presitgious. Can't say if GPA's are higher, but getting into college itself is much tougher there, as it is subsidized, there are no "athletic" scholarships, and seats are limited. You have to be a top student to go to college. Maybe someone here has more exact stats. i'd love to see them.

          •  South Korea, Singapore... (0+ / 0-)

            Linda Darling-Hammond's book "The Flat World and Education" subtitle:  "How America's Commitment to Equity will Determine our Future" is beautifully written and well-documented but it is a very depressing read if you care about education in the U.S.

            But I have been told that facts have a liberal bias...

            ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

            by slowbutsure on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 03:36:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Definitely not Singapore (0+ / 0-)

              I do a lot of business there, travel there frequently, and even took a look at one of their immigration schemes for my family a couple of years ago since I was spending so much time there and in rest of Asia.

              In Singapore the best and the brightest go into finance, often via the government.  In fact, Singapore has a program that gives students government scholarships to study abroad at top universities - if you can get into Harvard or Oxford you're pretty sure to get one - in return for several years of government service.  So a very typical resume for a Singaporean banker is 4 years at Oxford, 5 years in the military doing something high tech, several years at Temasek (Singapore's government investment fund) and then a jump into finance, private equity, etc.

  •  As Said Above (13+ / 0-)

    I do care about teachers -- but I also recognize how vitally important free, mandatory, universal and public primary and secondary education is to having a modern economy and society.

    Powerful people want to dismantle our institutions. Teachers are merely a collateral damage to them as they achieve this aim -- but we must understand that they are among the most essential torch-bearers of civilization.

    To understand how far back Bill Gates, Michelle Rhea and their fellow travelers want to take us:

    The first state to make public primary education free, universal and mandatory was Austria ...

    In 1774.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:12:55 PM PDT

  •  Republicans invest in wealth, not education. (13+ / 0-)

    It's a fact.  Republicans think investing, and spending, and raising taxes to fund our sinking education crisis is not worth it.  Republicans want to continue to slash any funding that would go to schools, teachers, or anything related to education.

    Why do Republicans hate the middle class?

    The Republican answer to education is simple.  Put your kid in a private school.      

    Republicans are destroying our youth, and our country on so many levels.  It's all about greed.

    I feel we should do everything possible to get our schools back to where they should be.  Yes, it's about money.  Paying teachers, buying more property, having less kids in each class, and having the tools to teach.  It's about art, music, and physical education, math, civics, and even auto shop.  Where did all of these things go?  They went away.
    Republicans won't fund our schools.  They have no problem funding a war, as long as it helps their portfolio that contains plenty of Halliburton stock.  Sure, increase the national debt for war, but education?  NOPE.

    We need to vote out as many Republicans as possible.  We need Republican principals from schools from all over our country to start taking shots at those who are doing the damage.  Eric Cantor?  Ask him if he thinks our education system is in trouble?  His solution is the above answer ,  Put your kids in private school.

    He has no idea what it's like not to be wealthy.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:20:34 PM PDT

    •  We hate poor people & believe in aspirational (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron, agincour

      Greed, hence the worship of the evil lying framers. Children will screw us out of our SS & Medicare 'cause we screwed them out of a good education.

      The people who vote don't see the societal benefit from education.

      We're more stupid than Anericans in 1860. The USA is a big lie  & the Rs know it.

      The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

      by a2nite on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:30:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This galls me for a number of reasons: (13+ / 0-)

    1) I'm a public school parent
    2) I'm a professor and union member at a public college
    3) I'm the son of a public school teacher/union member
    4) I'm an American, and this is about the future of our people and our country.

  •  Shows how old I am, it took me a minute (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    to realise the Walton's you were refering to didn't include John-boy.

    Henceforth I ask not good fortune. I myself am good fortune. Walt Whitman

    by Sacramento Dem on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:32:14 PM PDT

  •  This is a very good diary about very bad news. n/t (10+ / 0-)
  •  The destruction of public education is deliberate (19+ / 0-)

    It's not just about profitizing education or destroying teacher unions. It's about destroying an institution whose most critical role is turning out the citizens of tomorrow. And frankly, the people behind this would rather have a population of ignorant, mis-informed serfs than educated adults capable of making up their own minds.

    They're targeting the public schools because of the things they  teach: tolerance for others, tolerance for other religions (and religious separation), history that tells the whole story instead of the 'approved' version, the values of community, cooperation, and sharing.

    This isn't about education - it's about whose values will prevail. It's the culture war extended to children - and the usual suspects are behind it in an unholy alliance. When Rick Santorum stated that sending kids to college was a bad idea because it would expose them to liberal ideas, that was just tip of the iceberg. They don't want people who are educated - they want people who are indoctrinated.

    Conservatives want to replace Education with Indoctrination.
    It's that simple.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:37:17 PM PDT

    •  Speaking of Labor and the Waltons (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gator, khughes1963

      If you get hired to work at Walmart, all new employees get indoctrinated in a mass class. (If you can get through the mandatory drug screening.)

      They talk about Sam Walton building up the business from just one store after coming back from serving in the armed forces, and then show him getting the medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan. (Yes, you too can be a gazillionaire if you just work hard enough.)

      They also make sure to pound home the message that unions are not necessary - they take your money and give you nothing in return. They're very emphatic about that. Repeatedly.

      Subtle, they're not. But who needs subtle when it all comes together to support things like this? I'm sure in the minds of the Walton family, their hordes of minimum wage serfs should feel proud it's their sweat that makes it possible.

      Funny. I'm old enough to remember when Walmart used to advertise its made in America wares. They don't any more - probably because they drove them all out of business.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 06:14:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Critical Thinkers (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drmah, xaxnar, Cynic in seattle, Mokurai

      Public education/Public Universities educate people to be critical thinkers.  It is the number one way to promote democracy.  Critical thinkers evaluate and assess statements, weigh pros and cons.  Without a literate critical thinking skills the average individual is susceptible to sloganeering, sweeping generalizations, and oversimplification.

      Education keeps Democracy alive.

      I'm just here for the Mojo!

      by Gator on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 06:42:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Began under Ronald Reagan, called "dumbing of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Cynic in seattle, khughes1963

      America."  Republicans see an educated electorate, capable of reason and logic, as threatening to their "rich only" agenda.

  •  How does BYU stay so cheap? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah

    It's gotten more expensive than in my day, but at 2011-2 tuition you're talking just over $35,000 for four years.

  •  Regarding class size ... (11+ / 0-)

    Chester Finn, a well known conservative critic of public education, published a study with Michael Petrelli, claiming that class size had no impact on student success. This was accepted as gospel for a few years by a variety of people, including some public educators. It is still cited by those who haven't read the latest research.

    The latest studies support what common sense would tell any sensible uperson, smaller class sizes do matter. See this study by Bruce Biddle and David Berliner.

    A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

    by slatsg on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:46:42 PM PDT

  •  anyone who cares about the future (7+ / 0-)

    cares about teachers. some seem not to have figured that out.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:50:57 PM PDT

  •  It's segregation all over again. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gator, drmah, seabos84

    Now it's segregation by class.

    •  See tables 286 & 698. Median Family Income for (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drmah

      freshmen at 4 year colleges and universities is appx. $76,000 in 2010.

      (that is table 286)

      so half the students come from the upper 40% ... ummmm

      (see table 698 for 2009 Family income - 30,825,000/78,867,000)

      if you go to table 692, household income, there are appx 117,000,000 households with appx. 37,298,000 households with over 75,000 in money income - appx 32% of households)

      I'm going to miss the Statistical Abstract of The United States.

      Education Stats

      rmm.

      Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

      by seabos84 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:45:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  50% from the top 40% does not seem unreasonable (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WillR
        •  what about 50% from top 32%? btw, what % (0+ / 0-)

          of each quintile ends up in a 4 year program ??

          IF you HAD to bet your last 1000 bucks, I'd bet that the top quintile has 2 or 5 times more than the bottom quintile -

          but, lacking data, I don't know.

          I do know how'd I bet.

          rmm.

          Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

          by seabos84 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 11:37:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What's your point? (0+ / 0-)
            what about 50% from top 32%?
            What about it?  Those aren't the numbers.  The numbers are 50% from the top 40%.
            IF you HAD to bet your last 1000 bucks, I'd bet that the top quintile has 2 or 5 times more than the bottom quintile -
            I assume you mean 2 - 5 times the percentage of children going to college (if you go by absolute numbers it may be skewed by people in top and bottom quintiles having different numbers of children.)

            2 I would believe - I assume a good 90% of the children of people in the top quintile go to some kind of college and 45% does not seem unreasonable for the bottom quintile.

            But I will happily take your bet on 5 times.

  •  Great diary! Thanks. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    iTeachQ
  •  Want to hear an Urban Myth! (7+ / 0-)

    The teacher's union protects incompetent teachers.

    Yes it is an urban myth.  Unions can only hold the district to the contract.

    Every contract has a teacher evaluation.  There are several ways to fire an incompetent teacher even if they have tenure.

    What most administrators would prefer is the power to  fire teachers without due process.  The union can only insure that the district follows due process.  The district and union in my area negotiate every two years.  If districts want to change the due process they can negotiate with the teachers.

    If administrators want to fire a teacher all they have to  do is follow due process.  This might require collecting information and building a case, but most jobs require this.

    The districts have far more power on their side than any union.

    Please do not perpetuate this urban myth.

    I'm just here for the Mojo!

    by Gator on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 06:31:16 PM PDT

    •  Here's the funny thing about that... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gator

      The incompetent teacher will often leave the profession because they can't handle it. And you're right about evaluations. I don't recall ever hiring myself, evaluating myself, or giving myself a raise.

      Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

      by rreabold on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 06:44:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is absolutely not a myth (0+ / 0-)

      My father was an administrator.   I have heard MANY stories about how he and his colleagues were thwarted in trying to get rid of lazy and ineffective teachers.  They failed every single time.  

      One story was a history teacher who sat in the back of the room and read from the text book every day.    She gave open book tests and the test questions were taken from the back of the chapter.    She was an easy A.

      Another was a teacher who tried to stir up competition by humorously remarking that girls from a particular area were more interested in boys than books.   He made students who came in short skirts sit in front, facing the class.

      One of my kids teachers spent most of her time talking about her hobby farm in wisconsin.  Because of the commute, she came late and left early every day.   Because my kids had to survive in her class, I had no power to challenge her.

      One of my kids was unable to see ANY guidance counselor during his sophomore year because his counselor had breast cancer, and was rarely available for meetings.   She was tired and cranky ( naturally ) but she was still listed as a full time employee, with a full load of kids she was not strong enough to see.

      There are certainly lots of teacher union members who care more about students than their own jobs and pay, but it is not one-to-one.  

      As in any field, there are a large number of teachers who are burned out, in over their head, or just never did care that much.     It is hard to figure out who these people are in the hiring interview, or the first couple years of employment.  

      Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

      by bobtmn on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 06:03:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The ability to remove a problem teacher (0+ / 0-)

        appears to vary distinctly from state to state and district to district.

        Tellingly, states without teacher's unions appear to have the same issues as those with unions.

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

        by elfling on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 09:15:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  So your father the administrator... (0+ / 0-)

        had no options to not renew these teachers contracts or fire them?

        I seriously doubt that with data, anecdotal records, student and parent complaints that these teachers could not have been removed.

        If that truly is the case then the district is responsible for negotiating such a poor contract, but I seriously doubt it.

        It is a myth!

        I'm just here for the Mojo!

        by Gator on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:40:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Myth" = Calling me a Liar (0+ / 0-)

          The teachers were tenured, with many, many years experience.    

          When you say it is a myth, you are saying I am a liar.  My dad did try to get rid of teachers, and, as I said FAILED.  

          I hate that you blame the victims (students & parents) for not fighting hard enough.    Victims do not easily organize against the people that have power over them.     Girls from the second teacher's class came to his office in tears.

          Students have one teacher for one year.  I don't think there is ANY process that would help a particular kid by firing a teacher.  The teacher would be put on probation or "development" and take it out on the kid.

          When I was a student, I NEVER complained about a teacher, even though I had one history teacher in high school who expounded on his theory that Asians were the smartest humans, folllowed by Jews, then by Whites and then by "the coloreds"   This was in the sixties, but I knew it was wrong even then.

          I suppose you also think that the victims of priests and football coaches should have spoke up earlier.  After all, coaches and priests certainly could not  hide any bad actors if the people would just speak up.

          Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

          by bobtmn on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 05:36:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is interesting. (0+ / 0-)

            My responses are in Italics
            The teachers were tenured, with many, many years experience. Tenure does not prevent an administrator from firing a teacher or put on leave till  further notice as long as the teacher is given due process.

            When you say it is a myth, you are saying I am a liar. If i thought you were a liar I would say so. I will say you have bought into the myth and just like most popular misconceptions it is overly simplistic.  My dad did try to get rid of teachers, and, as I said FAILED. I don't know the exact details, but I would guess the reason he failed was because he gave up too soon or did not follow due process.

            I hate that you blame the victims (students & parents) for not fighting hard enough.  I clearly stated it was the administrator who would need to fire the teacher.  I  never blamed the victims  This is assumption on your part.  Victims do not easily organize against the people that have power over them.     Girls from the second teacher's class came to his office in tears.  "I am sure that some students have had bad experiences."  I also know that second grade girls cry frequently especially in groups.  Most teachers know this and often students will be mad at the teacher and then best friends the next day.  Just because a student cries does not necessarily mean something is wrong.  They should be consoled and listened to all the same, but a great deal of more information is needed before conclusions can be drawn.

            Students have one teacher for one year.  I don't think there is ANY process that would help a particular kid by firing a teacher.  Your simply incorrect, many students have been aided by the firing of an incompetent teacher.  Many more students have been helped by an adminstrator stepping in and coaching a struggling teacher.  The teacher would be put on probation or "development" and take it out on the kid. If this were the case then it would be more information more just cause for firing the teacher.  It just has to be documented.

            When I was a student, I NEVER complained about a teacher, even though I had one history teacher in high school who expounded on his theory that Asians were the smartest humans, folllowed by Jews, then by Whites and then by "the coloreds"   This was in the sixties, but I knew it was wrong even then.  Your experience from 40 years ago has little bearing on what is happening today.  Should those comparisons been made? No, but to judge teachers of today on this  isolated experience from 40 years ago wouldn't be rational

            I suppose you also think that the victims of priests and football coaches should have spoke up earlier.  You are incorrect. This is an assumption you have made that has little to  do with  teachers, incompetent or otherwise.  I see this as an attempt to defocus the issue by making such an accusation.  After all, coaches and priests certainly could not  hide any bad actors if the people would just speak up."Well every story I've read in the last ten years involving a priest or teacher abusing children for an extended period of time had an administrator covering for them or simply would not follow the steps necessary to fire them so no I don't blame the victim.  I blame the  admin. above the priests and coaches  that turn  a blind eye and refuse to deal with the issue as well as the perpetrators themselves.

            I will leave you with a couple of thoughts; every student will have a teacher they do not like; this doesn't mean that the teacher is incompetent.  
            Every parent will not like all of their child's teachers.  This does not mean the teachers are incompetent.  
            There are a few teachers that should not be teaching, and there is a procedure to move them out of the profession, just like any other licensed professional; doctor, lawyer, nurse, etc.
            Every district has procedures and requirements for firing teachers whether they are tenured or not. It is called due process.
            In my experience the reason why an incompetent teacher retained their job was the result of the  admin not following the procedures, rules, and fulfilling the required documentation.
            Tens of thousands of teachers show up everyday, do their job in a professional manner and most go above and beyond what their job description calls for.  
            Finally, I am sure you can find isolated cases to support your misconception, but 99% of teachers are doing their jobs and the 1 % who don't get fired, their contract is not renewed, or leave the profession.  

            Yes it is a myth!

            I'm just here for the Mojo!

            by Gator on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 09:14:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Your assumptions are mostly wrong (0+ / 0-)

              I'm not going to argue with you anymore, because you are discounting my experience with a wave of your wand, and a recitation of your beliefs.

              Your assumptions are almost all wrong.  My dad was a devoted teacher and administrator who never did anything without doing his best.  

              The students were not cry-baby second graders, they were first year college.

              You are indeed blaming the victims.

              Anyone claiming that 99% of anything is a certain way is using a made up statistic.   Look it up.

              Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

              by bobtmn on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 06:30:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I wasn't arguing, (0+ / 0-)

                but if you don't want to continue the discussion I understand.

                But I will restate that Unions do not protect incompetent teachers.

                It is complete myth that Unions protect incompetent teachers.

                Perpetuating the myth only hurts the good teachers out there.

                Maybe we can discuss it further in the future.

                I'm just here for the Mojo!

                by Gator on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 07:29:17 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  I thought it was about the kids. (0+ / 0-)

    Are we changing the message again?

  •  Laura you nailed a big part of this issue, but.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cruz, Cynic in seattle

    President Obama has failed to provide leadership and has been influenced by the wrong people....

    Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

    by semioticjim on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 06:50:21 PM PDT

  •  There's an expression that fits this... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    iTeachQ, Burned, seabos84

    ...excellent diary very well. It's been tainted by the behavior of the guy who made it popular. But it ought to be revived: Two Americas.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:01:18 PM PDT

  •  THE Enemy is Rahm & Arne & DFER as much as Mitt (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cruz, Cynic in seattle, Azazello, Funkygal

    cuz Rahm and Arne and the rest of the yuppie sell out  "Democrats" kissing Bill Gates' ass

    (Look up Sauron and his Ringwraiths)

    are pulling the good ol DLC Third Way New Dem bullshit of being 'moderate' and 'centrist' and 'bipartisan' and ... whatever the nom du jour is from the right wing for selling out kids and teachers --

    and because they're "Democrats", they can't be against education, therefore their bullshit must be for education!

    by the way - these yuppie sell out scum are the SAME kind of leafy neighborhood Democrats who aren't racists or bigots or sexist pigs or 13th century flat earthers, BUT, who consistently enable the Goldmans and AIGs and Exxons and ... and lying privateers like Bill Gates & the Waltons

    These are the leafy neighborhood yuppie sell outs who are NOT addressing the systemic problem, cuz, at the end of the day, they're rich pig ass kissers over everything.

    rmm

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:35:40 PM PDT

    •  Yes, the attack on public ed is bipartisan. Obama (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seabos84

      has gone after teachers unions in a way Repubs hadn't dared to and he has been applauded by Jeb Bush, itch Daniels, WSJ (Rupert Murdoch), Chris Christie etc. We need to be honest about this if we are to change things for good.

      "The word bipartisan means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out”. - George Carlin

      by Funkygal on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:56:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I read your tears as mine burned my eyes. (0+ / 0-)

    The pols have their bank account.

    An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head is the second..Jefferson's Letter to Peter Carr

    by JugOPunch on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:37:23 PM PDT

  •  Great diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    iTeachQ

    I teach in a community college, and what you write is very true.

    I do have one reservation, however, and that's the idea that the purpose of education is to train the workers of tomorrow. I don't want to train people to be good employees - to be valued by how well they do as they're told, how much they respect authority, and to prepare for a life of creating wealth for people who generally don't have to work, and not share in that wealth. Most workplaces are totalitarian institutions, and I have no interest in training people to function well in such an system. I want to help them topple that system and create something better.

    A couple years ago, Arne Duncan gave a commencement address at a community college in California. He told the students that they were the workers of the future, fulfilling Obama's promise to create a "resiliant" workforce. The same year, UN Ambassador Susan Rice gave the commencement address at Stanford, but you know damn well she didn't tell them they were the "workers" of the future. She said they would be agents of change in the world. So if you go to a community college, you're a worker. If you go to Stanford, you're going to change the world.

    This administration, like so many others, has a classist vision of education - some students are destined to be employees, while a small number of other students are expected to be managers and leaders. This is not a system I want to be part of. As someone smarter than me once said (paraphrase), I'm less interested in the workings of Einstein's brain than I am in the certainty that people of equal or greater talents have died in fields and sweatshops. As long as our educational system purposefully shoves people into one class or another, it will fail in its purpose of strengthening (in our case, creating) a truly democratic society.

    It's long past time to move beyond the "jobs" economy, and create an economy based on work, where the creative and intellectual capacities of people can flourish. The system we have now is not that system, and under both parties, it's getting worse.

    Again, great diary.

    Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth. - Lucy Parsons

    by cruz on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 08:21:23 PM PDT

    •  Yes... we can all be leaders (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobtmn
      I teach in a community college, and what you write is very true.

      I do have one reservation, however, and that's the idea that the purpose of education is to train the workers of tomorrow. I don't want to train people to be good employees - to be valued by how well they do as they're told, how much they respect authority, and to prepare for a life of creating wealth for people who generally don't have to work, and not share in that wealth. Most workplaces are totalitarian institutions, and I have no interest in training people to function well in such an system. I want to help them topple that system and create something better.

      Of course since everyone will be a leader there won't be any followers, which kind of makes it hard to be a leader.... hmmm...

      You may have some idea that we can run the US with Occupy style GAs.  Perhaps you could try that with a business with a few hundred staff first and see how it works before we try it with a 300 million person country?

      Until then, why should I as a tax payer pay your salary unless you are preparing your students to go out and get decent jobs at livable wages to support themselves and their families so I don't have to?

      •  Right... (0+ / 0-)

        because the only options are totalitarian capitalism and Occupy-style General Assemblies.

        Say it with me, Logic 101 students: false dichotomy. :)

        You might have quoted my comment, but you don't seem to have read it.

        Being more constructive, you might look at the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cooperative, democratically-run (to varying degrees) workplaces throughout the country. There are so many different ways to organize a single institution, and an economy. I'm interested in what is more humane, and what will maximize our creative and intellectual capacities.

        Finally, you are more than welcome to believe that the sole purpose of education is to create and train people to be employees. That's your right, and a lot of people would agree with it. I happen to have a different vision/philosophy.

        Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth. - Lucy Parsons

        by cruz on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 07:06:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Laugh... and what is the alternative (0+ / 0-)
          Being more constructive, you might look at the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cooperative, democratically-run (to varying degrees) workplaces throughout the country.
          OK... let's look at them.  How many are in the Fortune 500?  What?  None of them?  Does that give you a hint that these organizational methods don't scale?
          Finally, you are more than welcome to believe that the sole purpose of education is to create and train people to be employees. That's your right, and a lot of people would agree with it. I happen to have a different vision/philosophy.
          Perhaps then you should get a new job or you should raise donations from like minded people to pay your salary, rather than taking it from people who are paying you to teach students what they need to know to get good jobs.
  •  Why teachers are targets (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vandred

    The Republicans have figured out ways to identify and marginalize groups that tend to vote for Democrats.   This is why they want voter-id and why they oppose voting day national holidays and voter registration drives.

    The GOP does not hate the poor, homeless or working people.  They just want to make it harder for them to organize and vote.

    The logic is the same with teachers.  The GOP is only interested in reducing the number of reliable Democratic voters that can come from teachers ( and other public union members ).    To do this, they want teachers to resent  Democrats so they will stay home on voting day.

    To say that the GOP would rather have no public education and no public services is a false conclusion.   If public employees stopped throwing their weight around in politics, they would not be  a target at all.

    Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

    by bobtmn on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 06:20:16 AM PDT

  •  I want evidence-based education (0+ / 0-)

    but all we get is ideology. The most trivial example is phonics vs. whole word reading. In fact English requires some of each. I made a few small contributions to the PBS series Children of the Code, on this point.

    He wound the bandage around the wound.

    Though with rough cough and hiccough he ploughed through the lough.

    On the grand scale, we have the fact that computers with Free Software and Open Educational Resources under Creative Commons cost less than printed textbooks, and the contrasting fact that there has been no serious attempt at creating a curriculum that integrates computers and software into OERs. The Wall Street Journal in the US and The Economist in the UK are both implacably hostile to computers in education, regardless of their proven benefits for teaching the computer skills and cognitive skills essential for both an Information Age economy and modern political organizing.

    Hands off my ObamaCare[TM] http://www.reddit.com/tb/vbkfm

    by Mokurai on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 07:56:32 AM PDT

    •  Regardless of the merit of computers (0+ / 0-)

      in the classroom and screen time for kids, I suspect that even totally free open source online texts will cost more than printed paper textbooks because of the IT infrastructure required, which includes not only computers, but also technicians, access to high speed internet, air conditioning, and electrical upgrades.

      Most classrooms were not designed for thirty computer outlets, and many don't even have enough amps even if you had the wiring.

      Laptops will eat batteries using them that way (even if you have the power to charge them), so you'd have to plan on a new $100 battery annually for each machine.

      There are schools all over America who don't have high speed internet access in the first place. And how many places do you know with 24x7 uptime for internet? Those that do have a large and expensive staff and specialized equipment to make it so. Imagine a 45 minute period and how much disruption would be caused by a 5-10 minute internet outage.

      So the logistical issues are substantial, and as far as I can tell, there's no widespread effort to address them, even as the Department of Education is pushing Common Core with computer-administered assessments starting in 2014.

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

      by elfling on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 09:22:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  education as a labor issue (0+ / 0-)

    I agree that education is a labor issue, and that hopefully all of the children in any class will someday have jobs. That is almost a no-brainer. But, seeing education as focused solely on that outcome has had, for the the time I have been involved in the system as an educator since 1970, a seriously negative effect on education. This is pathway to high-stakes testing, to teacher evaluation based on student test scores, and the furtherance of the notion that schools are factories producing trained workers and nothing more. This has made it too easy to assess students, teachers, and schools. And significantly, it has produced Michelle Rhee as the most notable spokesperson for educational reform. That alone should say it all. The simple countering fact is that much more than test-measurable outcomes occur in any classroom. Children become adults in them, prepared to live a much fuller life, socially and personally, civically and politically. The basis they acquire at home, good or ill, is moderated by the interaction and growth that occur in the classroom, broadening possibilities far beyond what can be provided at home. Underestimating the value of this is a result of reducing schools to worker preparation facilities. Yes, this is nearly impossible to measure but incalculable in its contribution to a richer society, and should, in my humble estimation, be resisted at all turns. Schools and teachers do and should do much more than produce trained workers.

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