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I was disheartened to hear Chris Hayes on C-SPAN say that the educational "reform" movement is "winning the argument." That's not to say they're winning on any factual level, Hayes meant that in terms of public debate, anything short of blaming the teachers means supporting the status quo.

It's worth noting that this scapegoat has resonance for a reason, there's an emotional appeal for blaming the teachers.  

The Poverty Problem

The US education system isn't broken, it's being disrupted by poverty. As the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test shows the United States ranked in the low 20s but at the same time it has some of the highest child poverty in the industrialized world.

When the effects of child poverty are factored in, the US actually outperforms every other country in the world. That is, all things being equal, we still have the best education in the world: an area with 10% child poverty in the US will, on average, do better than an area with 10% child poverty in Finland.

PISA Test Scores and Child Poverty

PISA test scores and poverty

While the struggle with being poor has an obvious effect on learning, it also has effects for funding. Schools that have a higher poverty rate will have lower funding for the schools because of a lower tax base.

Total Per-Student Expenditures Versus Student Poverty Rates for U.S. School Districts with More Than 1,000 Enrollment

Poverty and school funding per student pupil

Indeed, these problems have been expanded by education policy and increases in poverty following the recession.

Bad Teachers

This leaves a problem, if it's objectively shown to be poverty then why is there an effort at demonizing teachers, or rather, why assume people would believe its the teachers that are the problem? It's the dominant position, everyone from Fox News to Jonathan Alter thinks its the teachers fault. So, agendas aside, why even push the story?

The answer lies in the anecdotal and emotional experience of people. Lets face it, you've had a bad teacher in your life. The problem is that one bad teacher is out of dozens of good (or at least adequate) teachers. Thus it's wrong to assume that someones personal experience accounts for a national epidemic.

Unfortunate the media does just that, it takes a personal experiences and turns it into a national problem. As a Newsweek article makes clear:

In most states, after two or three years, teachers are given lifetime tenure. It is almost impossible to fire them. In New York City in 2008, three out of 30,000 tenured teachers were dismissed for cause. The statistics are just as eye-popping in other cities. The percentage of teachers dismissed for poor performance in Chicago between 2005 and 2008 (the most recent figures available) was 0.1 percent. In Akron, Ohio, zero percent. In Toledo, 0.01 percent. In Denver, zero percent. In no other socially significant profession are the workers so insulated from accountability.
What Newsweek apparent forgot is that "In no other socially significant profession" are people exposed to dozens of such professionals. People don't just choose one teacher all their life like they would a doctor or lawyer, they go through numerous upon numerous ones. Imagine going through 20 mechanics or 20 doctors or 20 lawyers, chances are some of them won't be top notch.  

Or more importantly, where's the evidence that those places needed to fire more teachers? As NPR points out, even when it's really easy to fire teachers (like, "at the click of the button" with virtually no documentation easy) many school principals don't do it.

What is to be done?

The important thing to remember is we're not dealing with an educational problem so much as a child poverty problem. That's why most "reforms" have little to do with improving education and are just done as a means to undermine it.

For instance, one favorite "reform" is charter schools, even though studies find that charters on average do worse than public schools.  

Charter school study compared to Public school

If we want to get serious about education we should be fighting the cause of the problems, not making them worse.  

Edit: A lot of commentators brought up good points on teacher tenure:

(A) Tenure isn't a guarantee to not be fired, it's to not be fired without just cause as well as the teacher being represented during the process. Prior to tenure a teacher can basically be fired on the spot.

(B) Those that get tenure are usually the ones that are the best and endured enough to be proven to be good teachers. Those low firing rates are because being a public school teacher is one of the hardest jobs out there and most leave teaching after 5 years leaving the good ones.  
(C) A lot of bad teachers aren't directly fired but persuaded to retire. It's another reason why statistics for firing are so low.  

Originally posted to CartoonDiablo on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:06 AM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My Little Rural Town Has Some Of The Best (14+ / 0-)

    public schools in the state, heck the nation. And they are like that cause we spend a lot of money on them. Heck in an election where we voted 57% for McCain (and I live in IL) we voted 63% to raise our property taxes to build a new $60M high school. Even in a Republican district/town we know that you have to spend money if you want "nice" things.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:23:26 AM PDT

  •  Is it still true that DC has one of the highest (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding, mygreekamphora, FG

    per student allotments and yet is still not performing up to standards?

    Once upon a time bright women (mostly) who had limited avenues to other careers went into teaching. Even if they could get into med school, etc. they did not have the funds. They were smart and eager to have a positive effect on kids.

    Fortunately for women (unfortunately for the teaching profession) many of the women today can enter business, law, medicine and other professions. Just look at the large percentage of women in law and med schools.

    Quite a few people who enter teaching today do not have the same skills as those years ago. Their basic education is not as good. Some are not smart enough to wade through the schools of law, medicine or other more involved professions.

    I also believe that the subject matter has been dumbed down for both teacher and student.

    Maybe the unions have made it too difficult for school districts to dismiss incompetent teachers. I'm all for good salaries and decent hours, etc., but very few of us have tenure in our jobs. And after only 3 years?

    I'm not blaming the teachers alone, after all, we all want some security in our jobs.  I'm blaming the school districts, the communities, teaching colleges and unions - yes, unions.

    When the balance of power is no longer balanced, the whole universe is in trouble.

    Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive. And... It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by auapplemac on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 01:49:45 AM PDT

    •  I Lived In DC For Almost 20 Years (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero, gramofsam1, auapplemac

      I didn't have kids, but those of my friends that did, well sending them to a public school in DC is unheard of. Just doesn't happen. I find that sad, but it is a fact.

      My understanding is the spending is high in DC. And the schools are terrible. I mean terrible.

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 02:09:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well a few things (15+ / 0-)

      I'm not sure about the DC statistic but for the others:

      There's no evidence to suggest that teaching quality has declined over the years. The only way you could believe that is if you assume that teacher quality is correlated exactly to poverty rate (which, even if true, would still mean teachers in the US are better all else being equal). It's worth noting that teacher grading models are often found to be erratic so it's more on the student and school's side.

      And there's no correlation or evidence to suggest that unionization impairs educational outcome, if anything it's the opposite, having less unions is correlated with a bad education.

      And I'm honestly not trying to be an apologist, it's just that after like dozens of articles blaming the teachers/unions you would think something more compelling would come up.

    •  This is the attitude (11+ / 0-)

      that steams me. Saying "I'm not blaming the teachers" does not actually mean you are not blaming the teachers, because you are. Saying that bright people don't go into the teaching profession since if they were bright they would go into some other more lucarative profession should lead you to think that we should be paying more for teachers rather than lead you to think that teachers now adays couldn't find their way out of a paper bag. Your line about "Some are not smart enough to wade through the schools of law, medicine or other more involved professions." is so insulting that it makes my head spin. You know nothing about the teaching profession if you don't think it "involves" rigorous thought and planning.

      “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 Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:16:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed. (7+ / 0-)

        I have sat upon multiple hiring committees at my local school, and I have been quite pleased with the kinds of talented people we've interviewed.

        And that is just a small sample of teachers looking for work.

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

        by elfling on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:35:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not only that... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peregrine kate, Fresno, blueoasis

          I have read numerous times from public education bashers that teachers are at the bottom 1/3rd of the SAT barrel as if that is a predeterminer for what makes a great teacher. I would counter with the fact that if a teacher, no matter what their expertise is in scoring well on the SAT, cannot relate or communicate well with their students, they will have no efficacy within the teacher-student relationship so crucial to successful learning experience.
          I don't care how smart you are. If you can't relate to students, you are going to be a poor teacher. There are many facets to this profession. Content knowledge being only one of them.
          Whether people like it or not, teaching is a helping, humanist profession. We deal with heterogeneous classroom groups and individuals with unique intellectual and psycho-emotional conditions. To boil the educational process down into pouring content into empty vessels and blank slates is immoral.
          Public education is compulsory in America. Let's face it. Schooling is a non consensual process. To say teachers can control what goes on inside another human beings mind is naive.
          When I hear deformers spouting non-sense that class size doesn't matter, I want to say: "Really?"

          Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

          by semioticjim on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 02:09:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Why can't someone who does well on SATs also have` (0+ / 0-)

            the capability to relate to kids? And what make someone who is, as you say, "at the bottom of the SAT barrel" more capable?

            Yes, teaching is a helping, humanist profession, but it also a profession that is supposed to impart knowledge and the thirst of knowledge and curiosity in kids.

            If you do not know the subject matter, it doesn't matter how caring and kid friendly you are. That child will not be able to spell, read or do math at his/her age level and be stunted for the rest of his school life.

            Teachers in middle and high school are then left with trying to get these kids to catch up rather than give them the knowledge to advance them to the next level.

            Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive. And... It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!

            by auapplemac on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 03:37:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Teaching is more of an art than a science.... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              semioticjim, blueoasis, elfling

              Sadly, people like yourself, thinking yourself to be an expert, because perhaps you went to school or have kids in school, extrapolate conclusions that only would work if one could take the humanity out of the students and the teachers.  Children are not widgets, teachers are not robots and a sage on the stage imparting knowledge is not a great teacher.

              If your premise is that imparting knowledge from a fact filled canister to a an empty one defines teaching, you are showing nothing more than ignorance.  

              I have taught in elementary school, middle school and on the college level and in my forty years, I will tell you this: elementary school teachers as a whole are some of the most gifted, exemplary educators in the system.   I have seen a few bad teachers over my time and frankly/thankfully in elementary school they are few and far between.  More often than not I saw the worst teachers at the secondary level.  But again that was a miniscule amount compared to how many teachers in a building and over the four decades of my experience.

              Elementary school teachers are indeed able to go so smoothly from sage on the stage to guide on the side, back and forth, daily every single day.  The students come in Kindergarten, full of wonder and eager to learn, and for the most part leave elementary school, still loving to learn.  Until of course...NCLB.  Now we have third graders sick and crying; teachers forced to stop being guides and into the role of the teaching of test taking  and sadly people, like many here, buy into the right wing meme of "failing schools" because of test scores.   CLUE:  Test scores are nothing more than a snapshot of a one part of one student's experience on one day, in one year.

              Schools fail when we take away from our most economically deprived students real education: the chance to go out into the real world, on field trips, see museums, go camping and learn about the world first hand.   Years ago, before Reagan and the privatization gurus had all the power, we, the teachers, got to do amazing things.  We took our kids on week long camping adventures.   We hiked, we explored, we examined plants, rocks, stars at night.  All the children in our district regardless of their economic situation went.  No one seemed to mind.   Art and Music were treated as being as much a part of learning as Math and Science.  
              Then the bogus "A Nation at Risk" came about and lo and behold, with the help of the media enamored by the actor, suddenly those PUBLIC schools were the problem; those overpaid, underworked teachers became the stars of a right wing march to convince every one, it's not the poverty, or lack of parenting, or greedy society.  It's those lousy teachers. And now, especially in schools with limited resources, recess, art, field trips are gone so we can do more and longer boring tasks to prepare for the tests.  Principals, teachers, students all pressured to do one thing: take tests well.  That's not learning.  Not even close.

              I am retired now.  But it still breaks my heart every time I read this BS on a progressive blog.    Sad how easily "progressives" buy into this cr*p.

              •  Why does it have to be one or the other. I went (0+ / 0-)

                on field trips years ago, but we were also tested weekly on spelling, math and reading. This was way, way before NCLB.

                I agree about funding cuts for field trips, music even PhysEd. All those are important, but the kids still need to know how to spell, compose a sentence, do basic math and read.

                Looking at the stars does not necessarily teach them how to spell Venus or even how to read about it.

                Education is made of of building blocks. You learn something basic and then you learn something a bit more complicated about the same subject and so on.

                Teaching in elementary school should mean having high standards, encouraging and challenging the kids and teaching them the basic knowledge they need to advance to high school and beyond.

                Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive. And... It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!

                by auapplemac on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 12:40:02 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Wow, you went on field trips (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  elfling

                  and so now you are an education expert.

                  Do you know how ridiculous this sounds.  

                  This meme, of those like yourself whose knowledge is at best limited, that one can extrapolate from limited experiences how teachers teach, how schools fail (because of bad teachers) is based on nothing more than ignorance of how human beings learn,

                  One does not "teach" how to spell or how to write.  One guides children to learn the rules of the language (English having some of the most varied rules and exceptions); to memorize; to read as to see how language works to impart knowledge.  Those skills are developed over time.  In a classroom of 25 there are amazing differences in the children.  First one can have as large a 12+ month difference in ages.  Developmentally, children are all different.  There is an amazing difference developmentally between a child who just turned five and one close to turning six.  There are amazing differences developmentally between males and females.
                  There are amazing differences developmentally between children coming from poverty and those from wealth.

                  For the record, teaching and learning are not the same thing.  Just because one teaches how to spell "Venus" does not mean every child will learn it.  Children are not widgets.  Educating a child is not opening a brain and pouring in facts.  If you think that's how it works; if you think just making sure the "teachers" are smart and well educated is a guarantee of good teaching, you are a fool.
                  If there was a simplistic formula for teaching; if the factory model of teaching was effective, we would not be having this discussion.

                  In the good old days some here have talked about (when according to some there were better teachers) the graduation rates were much lower.   Do the research.  When we lived in a society where factory jobs were plentiful and paid well, dropping out or barely graduating were not such factors.  One could still go to a steel mill or a factory and work consistently until retirement.  

                  Now, it is a different world.  In this world trying to educate everyone in the same way, is not the answer.  Teaching spelling to all is not the same.  I have a nephew who is a resistant speller.  He could learn.  Never cared to do so.  Struggled, by choice, in English writing.  But he is a mathematical whiz.  And a science whiz.  He is now a chemist.  Still can't/won't spell.  
                  Would harping on him forever, holding him back, punishing his school for low language arts scores on tests, have been the way to go?  
                  What about the music prodigy? Or the art prodigy?  

                  There is no magic in education.  And all the degrees in the world won't make a teacher better if they do not have the instinct for pacing, for individualizing, for connecting with kids.   If all you want is a "smart" teacher doing exercises in training children to take tests and score well, then you know nothing about education or human.

                  •  There was no golden age of American education (0+ / 0-)

                    especially not for young boys or girls of color.

                    We ask far more of kids today to graduate, and we expect it of every kid, not just the ones who show up ready and eager to learn.

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

                    by elfling on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 08:29:05 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You are right on! (0+ / 0-)

                      In many places, it was "separate but equal" which we all know was not even close to equal.  A colleague and friend of mine with whom I taught in CO was originally from SC.   She remembers it.  We often talked about that.

                      As well, even back then, the poorer the neighborhood, the less equal things are.  I know this from teaching myself as well as from my years growing up in the poorer, more ethnic suburbs, though I know that compared to some of the cities, we did OK.  

                      In the end, the reality is that there are too many factors, too many variables to use tests to judge the success/failure of schools.   That kind of nonsense has negative repercussions, from good teachers wanting to leave those school, especially when their jobs/salaries become at risk to cheating.  It happens. I have seen it.

                      It's the meritocracy game we are playing with in education now and frankly it is hurting children.

                      •  If you had read my entries here, you would (0+ / 0-)

                        know that I went to a mixed race school in a mixed race neighborhood. Luckily I lived in a northern city and this was way before official desegregation.

                        Some of our parents would be considered poor today, while others were working class. We lived in small row houses. Many families did not have a car. We had one phone (on a party line), and one small screen TV.

                        You used many words to tell us what a teacher does: "One guides children to learn the rules of the language (English having some of the most varied rules and exceptions); to memorize; to read as to see how language works to impart knowledge.  Those skills are developed over time."

                        Your erudite explanation can be distilled to one word... teaching! You can't teach effectively unless you use all of those tools.

                        Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive. And... It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!

                        by auapplemac on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 07:29:11 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

                          But this is what I am trying to explain to you: in the system being pushed by NCLB; in the system being pushed to give "Merit Pay" based on test scores; in this mentality that thinks there is a one way to teach, and test, and evaluate, teachers are not allowed to teach.

                          When the arts are cut; when recess is cut; when field trips are cut, in the rich communities, parents pick up giving their kids the art lessons, music lessons, and the time to get kids to any and all sports.  In the poor community, with many single parents, or with poverty, if schools do not provide the arts or take the kids to museums, or get them to soccer or baseball, what happens?  The kids lose.  And all of those things are a part of education.

                          My point for getting in to this with you is to explain that this meritocracy approach is a fail.  Kids learn at different rates, even within the same family.  Tests do not tell the story of a human being and yet funding to schools can be based on how well kids do.  Teachers are pressured to "teach to the test" to make sure their schools, their jobs survive.     This is scheme that has been pushed since the Reagan administration to trash public schools to get rid of of the unions  and too many progressives are buying into it.

                  •  Good rant (0+ / 0-)

                    This is all about how we are very adaptable and varied, we humans. We have all kinds of potential and characteristics - it's our strength to be so different from each other. It's how we specialize, and how we have evolved to be social creatures that depend on each other to specialize and do different things.

                    Teachers have to teach all kinds of temperaments, talents, and physical makeups the children have. Adaptability and the ability to see what is working with different children is key.

                    Women create the entire labor force.

                    by splashy on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 04:00:50 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Our district does week long camping (0+ / 0-)

                adventures.

                I think they are some of the most amazing educational experiences we provide.

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

                by elfling on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 08:26:44 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Not all of us... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              blueoasis, elfling

              are at the bottom of the SAT barrel...I'm quoting anti public education deform statements/research/propaganda.

              Being a teacher requires many kinds of knowledge and abilities. Scoring well on a standardized SAT test may indicate you can read and compute on a timed selected response standardized test, but what does it say about other capacities critical for becoming a top notch teacher?

              Do you know what they are?

              High stakes standardized testing is a sham....

              Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

              by semioticjim on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:20:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  It's not clear that it's actually true (0+ / 0-)

              http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

              and SAT does not measure subject matter knowledge. The SAT has changed quite a bit since I took it, but it still puts a premium on time, which means that some people who know the material can't bubble in the answers fast enough to get a great score.

              As far as recruiting goes, I think it's well understood that the primary tool of recruiters is wages and benefits. Wages have always been low for teachers, and benefits are under attack.

              Teaching is a challenging job, and being an elite student is not a guarantee of success. People who try teaching have a very high washout rate.

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

              by elfling on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 08:24:44 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  SAT only predicts one thing: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blueoasis

            The likelihood that a student will get through four years of college. It is correlated most strongly with one variable; did your parents go to college?

            That is what the SAT was designed to do. That is what it does. It is not an aptitude test, an intelligence test, and even the SAT Board admits there are many other types of intelligence NOT tested by the SAT.

            I laugh at people, mostly lawyers and doctors, who sit around comparing SAT scores. It has no predictive validity for much of anything, least of all success with people of diverse backgrounds. The misuse of the SAT is a case example of the misuse of ALL high stakes testing..

            Dont get me started...

            Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

            by OregonOak on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:29:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Because the SAT puts such a premium on speed (0+ / 0-)

              it was possible, when I took it,  for two people who performed fairly similarly in a classroom to have SAT scores that differ by hundreds of points.

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

              by elfling on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 08:30:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  We expect teachers to advocate for students (14+ / 0-)

      sometimes in opposition to their direct superiors in administration.

      That is the purpose of tenure.

      It's not a guarantee, and it doesn't keep districts from dismissing teachers. It means they have to have a reason, it has to be documented, and they have to have given the teacher an opportunity to address it.

      Some particular districts seem to have more trouble than others, especially large ones.

      To the extent the problem is contractual, a contract is an agreement between district administrators, the teachers, and the school board. All three must agree for the contract to be adopted.

      Interestingly, in states that don't have teachers' unions, you don't really see different outcomes. Indeed, for whatever reason, states without teachers' unions are at the bottom academically.

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

      by elfling on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:31:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And especially in opposition to some parents, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis

        churches, fraternal organizations, roving bands of outlaws and other questionable groups in society. Without some guarantee of fairness, tenure, there is no way for a teacher to have enough pull to oppose the forces of superstition, tribalism and dysfunctional family situations we encounter daily, and hourly.

        Those who would break down tenure are advocating a greater role of superstition, tribalism and family dysfunction. It is THAT simple. No wonder the Republicans hate tenure. It gores their three bulls.

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:33:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree that "unions have made it too difficult (14+ / 0-)

      to dismiss "incompetent teachers." Unions ARE teachers and they protect and RESPECT the profession. I have no doubt that somewhere a union has sometime protected a teacher who may in the end have proved not to be worth protecting but face it — with the turnover rate, the problem isn't culling deadwood but attracting and retaining quality teachers. If it is indeed true that the "reform movement [teacher bashing] is winning", then this country will never ever be able to attract the top students to teaching as they can in countries like Finland. The best students have the option of going into decently paid, respected professions where it isn't ASSUMED you are incompetent unless you prove otherwise. The pool of students going into teaching is going to decline in quality unless the reform discourse changes radically — and quickly.

      I went to see a great local band play the other day. Chatting with the singer after they played, I learned she is a high school teacher. When I told her how much respect I have for the important job she's doing, she drank in my words with such hunger and gratitude it made me sad. Later on, she told me starting salary in her system is $30,000 a year. $30,000! For a professional we make insane demands upon that we don't ask of other professionals.

      This needs to change. NOW.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

      by anastasia p on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:37:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A big part of the problem is the mainstreaming (0+ / 0-)

      Of the children with learning disabilities.

      At one time they were separated out, so the classes were easier to teach without disruptions and having to work one on one as much.

      That all changed in the early 1990's, when the children with LDs were mainstreamed, and the teachers were not taught how to work with them and weren't given assistants to help. It made the job a lot harder.

      Women create the entire labor force.

      by splashy on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 03:52:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great analysis.... (11+ / 0-)

    ......let me pile on some more with regard to the deceptionof the mass media and their corporate funders, and the bought and paid for politicians.

    I think the Obama Administration, openly in bed with the corporate education reform movement is making a calculated risk they will be able to beat Romney without progressive teachers campaigning by their side.

    Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

    by semioticjim on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 05:06:20 AM PDT

  •  Your original point.... (9+ / 0-)

    Yes...the forces of the 1% own all the media outlets and control it's content...of course they are going to beat down teachers....

    Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

    by semioticjim on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 05:09:05 AM PDT

  •  It's Unanimous, There Isn't Any Argument. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, seabos84, semioticjim

    We could repeal Reaganomics before we could preserve public education.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 05:12:47 AM PDT

  •  Such a broken system (15+ / 0-)

    The focus on metrics that do not account for context is appalling and destructive.  I know of a teacher in the DC system in a school with high poverty levels who was highly regarded and got a great assessment in the in-classroom work, but test scores didn't improve so she was put on probation.  The advice her principal and union -- who admire her teaching -- gave her was to go to a school in a better neighborhood for a year.

  •  bad teacher or bad fit? (8+ / 0-)

    Sometimes the teachers we think of as bad were just bad for us, a poor fit.  Teachers might be good for certain kids and not be able to connect with others.  Ideally, it should be possible to reshuffle kids, teachers and educational approaches to find the best fit for everyone.  

    •  There are also teachers who'd (4+ / 0-)

      do better at one school, rather than another.  I did my best when I taught poor kids.  It's not that I wasn't good enough with middle class kids, but I always felt that I connected better with kids and families who were "on the edge."  Maybe it's just that I felt more useful there...

      -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

      by luckylizard on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:04:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ask the teachers (7+ / 0-)

        One thing missing from all of this is asking teachers what THEY need to be the best teachers they can be.  For every teacher in every situation it will be different.  Some may need more training, some may need more mentoring/ coaching, some may need facilities that don't interfere with learning, some may need more materials and books, some may need students who have had a good breakfast.  

        Trying to find one magic solution that will fit every class and every school is doomed to fail.  It's not an assembly line where you can create identical items and measure them to make sure they fit predetermined weights and sizes.  People are all different and education is a messy thing.  

  •  Why blame yourself (8+ / 0-)

    if you can't keep up with the others at work, can't learn new skills to keep up with technology...when it is easier to blame your teachers?

    I know and work with thousands of excellent teachers. Yes, if I were pushed, I can remember some who were pretty un-inspired. But they represented a tiny fraction and honestly, most of those could have been coaxed to much better performance by caring and knowledgeable administrators.

    And BTW, I've experienced wonderful professional development partnerships with unions. That's the way we move forward, along with pride.

  •  Caring at School and at Home (9+ / 0-)

    It's not just poverty that's the problem, it's parent's involvement, or lack thereof, in their children's education. Teachers, the good, the alright, and the excellent, spend a lot of time in a day teaching and figuring out how to reach kids. It's what we do. But if a child goes home and no one there is as invested in their own child's future than his/her teachers, well, then teachers, the system, and the all-mighty data are at a disadvantage.

    Teachers, well, it's easier to say "fire her" than it is to fix a overwhelmingly broken social system. And now that dog-eat-dog is the winning philosophy over in red country, I don't see things getting any better.

    •  Scapegoating (3+ / 0-)

      Parents who don't have time or can't be bothered to parent are looking for someone to blame. It's the Responsibility Society at work again -- finding someone else to be responsible for what you should be taking care of.

      "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

      by sagesource on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:45:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis

        My favorite example was when I taught a particular set of brothers. The eldest one was an ambitious straight A student and all around model teenager. When he was in my classes, his parents lavished praise on me. I was among the greatest teachers in the world in their eyes.

        Their second son was bright, but a bit lazy, liked to disrupt class and only did enough work to get C's in every course. When he was in my classes, his parents regularly informed me that I was thoroughly incompetent.

        I made this complete turnaround from greatness to incompetency in a mere two years.

        Hmm....

    •  Precisely (5+ / 0-)

      I had some pretty bad teachers in my schools (Chicago Public Schools, back in the days before they were destroyed) but probably 98% of my high school graduating class went to college (including four to Harvard,and many to places like Stanford, Brandeis, University of Chicago, Barnard, Case Western Reserve etc). There were virtually no dropouts and "playing hooky" was unheard of.

      I'm sure you can guess the reason. We all came from upper middle class families with college-educated parents who never entertained for a second the idea that we wouldn't do well in school and go to college ourselves. If we had a terrible, incompetent teacher, like my 7th grade "science" teacher who read aloud to us from the curriculum book, had us copy things verbatim off the blackboard, and could answer no questions, our parents would tell us to just do the work and if we wanted to know more, they would take us to the library, buy us books, take us to the Field Museum, whatever.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

      by anastasia p on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:49:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Parents are responsible for educating their (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dave in Northridge, Tonedevil

        children.  The schools provide mass public education. They can only do so much.  If parents want more, they have to provide it.

        •  What I am saying is (0+ / 0-)

          that having two parents wit degrees from the University of Chicago, including a father with a PhD in chemistry, conveys a certain education advantage. Sure, it would be wonderful if that single mother high school dropout working the two minimum wage jobs could provide "more," gut honestly, in many cases, she can barely provide anything. And the child with a drug-addicted mother and father in prison who is shunted from relative to relative is lucky to have a safe place to sleep let alone someone who can provide assistance with his or her education.

          Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

          by anastasia p on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 06:28:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I absolutely agree. What do the parents who are (0+ / 0-)

            the U of Chicago grads provide to their children?  Their education!  Duh!  They transmit their education to their children.  The single mom, high school dropout is a very fine human being, no doubt, but she doesn't have the education to transmit.

            That's the difference.

  •  Isn't the table wrong? U.S. poverty is (0+ / 0-)

    > 10% not <10%

    I don't know what consciousness is or how it works, but I like it.

    by SocioSam on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:00:06 AM PDT

  •  What if unions "owned" the bad teacher problem? (0+ / 0-)

    I think that it is frustrating to be a good teacher, but see that the union spends time and resources defending bad teachers.  It's a small number, sure, but they exist...and we all know that they exist.  They never change their lesson plans.  They constantly hand out worksheets.  They show up late.  They beat the kids to the bus in the afternoon.  They are a scapegoat being used to paint all public school teachers, and this is wrong.  Teacher's unions have the power to change this.

    What if the unions require of their teachers some of the things that the reform movements are pushing in order to be "members in good standing?"  They could require that lesson plans change.  They could require teachers keep track of student performance data in order to assess their own effectiveness.  They could require differentiated instruction based on student ability.

    It should be an earned privilege to be protected by the union.  Those that don't toe the line could be denied union membership.  (at least this way it will be other teachers making the decisions instead of lawmakers)

    This would immediately put the unions on the side of the parents.  The political powers would no longer be able to appeal to the emotions of parents against the teachers and their unions.  What if there were no rubber rooms because these few bad apples are dealt with by the profession?  

    The entire political issue, field tested in focus groups across the country, would be neutralized. Then, the focus can be turned to the real culprit...poverty.  It might even be linked back as an unintended consequence of welfare reform.  Forcing a mom to take a bus 30 miles to a $10 per job definitely will impact the academic performance of her kids.  Did supposedly "solving" one problem create another?

    Just wondering...(union leaders, it's up to you)

    •  Unions ensure that the rules are followed (8+ / 0-)

      but I think your assumption that union leaders as a whole vigorously oppose the firing of any teacher is incorrect. My personal experiences run counter to your assumption.

      Again, this may vary by district somewhat.

      Certainly it's up to teachers to elect good leaders who represent them well.

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

      by elfling on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:43:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gramofsam1

        But, when some unions protect some bad teachers it provides emotional ammunition.  That's the result when we read about the "rubber rooms" in the New Yorker.

        Education reform isn't a new thing.  Every generation tries to improve things.  I'm just suggesting that perhaps qualified educators lead the process instead of lawmakers or well-meaning billionaires (I hope they are well meaning :)).  The unions could be the drivers of reform instead of protectors of the status-quo.

  •  Those stats about "dismissed for cause" (5+ / 0-)

    are extremely misleading.

    Underperforming teachers are pushed out all the time. Usually, rather than being formally fired, like most in the private sector, the teacher 'elects to spend more time with his family' and resigns. If it's an older teacher, she might be convinced to retire.

    It's more convenient for everyone if the teacher resigns, so that's usually how it's done.

    The reality is that there is a huge exit among teachers in the first 5 years. People who aren't cut out to be teachers leave, and leave early.

    Don't let that statistic fool you, and don't let any administrator tell you they can't remove a teacher. It won't happen overnight, but it absolutely can be done.

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

    by elfling on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:20:42 AM PDT

    •  it's very easy to push someone to retire (5+ / 0-)

      they get the shit classes, shit duties, shit lunchtimes, transfers, and classes in different buildings. It gets kinda mean spirited...what gets me is people here and elsewhere just don't get how political schools are; even with tenure protections, the mayor manages to get his appointments through; board members in Elizabeth, NJ, forced teachers and staff to pay for expensive dinners in their honor if they wanted to keep their jobs; they aren't being prosecuted because they backed Christie. There are hundreds of stories like this, and if you removed the protections you will get constant turnover, which is what we have in parochial and charter schools. But hey, it's cheaper, no "dead wood" that earns a middle class salary. Just a constant parade of teachers who come and go, the one thing studies do show is bad for kids and learning.

  •  even the Center for American Progress (3+ / 0-)

    basically argued that teachers with master's degrees aren't any better and aren't worth the cost, and their SAT scoes suck too, so there. The they go on about Finalnd requiring master's degrees but attracting the top 10% of students to teaching. Then they argue that it isn't wotrh it to pay for master's degrees, as the degrees are worthless, and the students who earn the masters are not from the top 10 precent.  The whole study seemed flawed and lacking in common sense; to sum it up ( and forgive typos because for some reason I cannotplace the cursor right on these posts and so it is a real pain to make corrections )we should save money by using a merit system. This did not sound like a progressive stance to me......

  •  As a parent, with two primary school children, (0+ / 0-)

    I have a vastly different view.

    On standardized testing the new charter school that is 1 mile from our house scored highest in the district of maybe 50 primary schools. Not sure how our local elementary scored. We tried the charter for 3 months but went back to the public.

    Without doubt the charter had better teachers and much smaller classes. There are other reasons we chose the local, the kids can walk, there are other poor kids there, the curriculum includes many things not at the charter like a full on PE, special art and music teachers etc.

    Our kids score consistently above grade level in reading and math, but we had to teach our kids to read and how to do basic arithmetic. I blame it on school of ed and tenure. Get rid of both and I'm in.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:33:05 AM PDT

  •  That whole meme about all those horrible (7+ / 0-)

    teachers getting tenure is hogwash. The first 3 years of teaching usually weeds out the ones who are either uncommitted, unable, or unwilling to put the enormous effort that is required and demanded of them to be successful. There are few teachers who stay in the field that don't see some measures of success. The few who do are given way too much credit for bringing the whole teaching community down, its just not true.  Tenure is in place so that administators can't get rid of an experienced teacher without documented evidence of wrong doing or inadequacy. Otherwise they could get rid of a teacher just to hire one that is cheaper (because they have less experience) or one who is a relative of someone in central office (and if you think this isn't possible, it happens now with new openings), or one who coaches or any other number of reasons. Tenure gives teachers who have worked hard and made sacrifices stability and relief from the anxiety of uncertainty in an otherwise stressful field.

    “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 Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:34:46 AM PDT

    •  I think it's fascinating to see people advocate (5+ / 0-)

      for longer probationary periods. The reality is that in California, the two year probationary period ensures that a good principal is very focused on that new teacher and will remediate or dismiss them quickly.

      If you don't have a good principal, than it doesn't matter how long the probationary period is.

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

      by elfling on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:47:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Probationary period doesn't make sense (0+ / 0-)

        It is hypothetically possible for a teacher to do stunningly well in the probationary period, then slack off when they get tenure, right?

        To me, if a teacher with tenure performs in a way that would get them fired in probation, they should be fired in tenure.

        I work in engineering. It's produce every year or get fired (they don't exactly spell it out that way, but that's the subtext). If you've been around for 20 years but just can't get things done, you're probably going to be gone soon.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:52:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Do you honestly (6+ / 0-)

          believe that bad performers are the ones who get fired?

          Looking at the firing issue overall, I think employers and their managerial level employees have become abusive over the years and simply fire upon a whim.  People didn't used to get fired left and right--now they do. And I think its because of the lack of jobs and competition that causes the abuse.

          And I don't think it has anything to do with performance--it's all related to who the boss likes and doesn't like.  And the bosses get away with blaming their subordinates for their [the bosses] incompetence, lack of job knowledge, and mistakes--and they fire the subordinate.

          I can easily provide example after example in different job settings of incompetence, lack of job knowledge, sleeping on the job, lack of performance of job duties, constant clashes with co-workers, and on and on--and these people are protected and don't get fired.

          The notion of meritocracy is a myth.

          And now that so many people are getting screwed, they sure don't want teachers getting away with anything--whatever they imagine that 'anything' to be.

          The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

          by dfarrah on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:33:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  There is so much I disagree with in this post (6+ / 0-)

          1) Equating students to products is misleading. I can teach 2 classes the same thing and get two different results. There are so many variables that determine classroom success that we cannot control. We can minimize the influence of those variables but they will affect the outcome. Also, curriculum, procedures and resources are constantly changing in the education field whereas the job you and most other fields do is fairly static, what you did last year is pretty much what you do this year and will be what you do next year. Sometimes we are not as successful as we want when we are in transition. Especially when we are given very little time or resources to make the transitions go smoothly.
          2) Tenured teachers can be fired, but it requires a reason and documentation to support it. But mostly, underperforming teachers are squeezed out rather than "fired", just like many private sector industries do.
          3) It is "hypothetically possible" for me, my best friend, my mother, and my brother to win the lottery in four separate drawings, but it is mathimatically improbable. A teacher doing "stunningly well" in probation is not going to suddenly stop just because they have tenure.

          “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 Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:56:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's possible but (0+ / 0-)

          people who have that kind of attitude telegraph it pretty early and pretty thoroughly.

          Of course, the larger the organization - and this is as true for engineers as it is for teachers - the easier it is for dead wood to hang out because no one can be bothered to deal with it.

          Teachers in probation are still on one year contracts, and they can be non-renewed for no reason in March. A good administrator will telegraph dissatisfaction sooner than that.

          In engineering, your staff develops a certain institutional knowledge of the product and the process. The same is true of teaching staff - every year in the community that they have success makes them a bit more valuable. Substantial turnover is almost always an indication that something is not going well inside the school.... IME, that is also true in a private company.

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

          by elfling on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 08:41:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Get ready for the next wave of incompetence (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil, blueoasis

        because school districts don't want good principals/site admns. They want admns to follow their orders and those orders are "raise test scores".

        Site admns are no longer advocates for their faculty & students, they're advoates for test scores.

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

        by rreabold on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:45:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I hear the grumpy but (0+ / 0-)

          I see districts out there going for - and getting - some pretty sparkling administrators.

          A great administrator enables great teachers. A good one is probably more valuable than a single great teacher.

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

          by elfling on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 08:44:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Teaching is also a profession that is (6+ / 0-)

    self-selecting.

    By that I mean that about 50% of teachers resign during the first 5 years on the job.  Many of them find that they simply cannot cut it in the classroom for a variety of reasons.  If there is, in reality, a low percentage of bad teachers, it can most likely be attributed to the fact that many of them left on their own.

    I just began my 37th year of public school teaching (28th in my current school) and I can honestly say that I've seen very few bad teachers.

    “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

    by musiclady on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:47:07 AM PDT

  •  Dim-0-crap sell outs in SFC, DFER ... who belong (0+ / 0-)

    workign for the scum managements of AHIP or the thieves of wall street are NO help - well, except to their Walton - Gate$ - Koch funded mortgages.

    In the Tea Party, 1 little itty bitty dinky waver from complete 1% ass kissing = banishment.

    In the Democratic Party,

    IF someone isn't a sexist, homophobic, racist flat earth drooling bigot,
    THEN they can be a upper middle cla$$ rich pig ass kissing sell out yuppie f'k, and they're alright!

    Guess what Democrats - I don't have anyone giving me a standing ovation for showing up to work on time and not stinking and not being drunk and for wearing clean clothes -

    I ain't giving anyone credit for doing the BASICS, either - and the BASICS are not being a drooler. You want credit from ME? Stop letting droolers dictate the terms of elections with their freak show bullshit.

    Oh yeah, and when you're a Walton - Gate$ rich pig a$$ ki$$er, you aren't on my side, you're on their side.

    rmm.

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

    by seabos84 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:05:16 AM PDT

  •  Great and important points made here. There are (8+ / 0-)

    many reasons for the popularity of scapegoating teachers.  The corporate drivers of phoney reform want to get rid of teachers' unions because they want to get rid of all unions and public employee unions are one of the last bastions of unionism.  If they can get rid of teachers' unions, they'll have gotten a lot closer to final victory over labor.  That's one thing.

    People generally fall in with it because they tell themselves that teachers have it so good - three months of vacation, pensions that everyone else has pretty much lost (they're on their own re: retirement except for Social SEcurity and we know what Repubs want to do with that) excellent health benefits.  School lets out at 3 p.m. and teachers just go home, right?  They don't know that many teachers stay after children go home until 6, 7, 8 p.m. and they are in the schools on weekends, in order to earn their average pay of $42,000.  There is a lot of disinformation about the conditions of teachers' employment.  If you don't know a teacher personally and how hard they work for how little, you buy the disinformation and hate on teachers.  The current effort to fire them if their students don't do well enough is the result.  Insanity.

    •  The teacher I mentioned above (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      helfenburg

      who sings in a rock band told me they are in school from 6:30 to 3:45. And that doesn't include any time preparing lessons or grading papers. For $30,000 a year starting pay. And you want to select from only your very best students? Dream on.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

      by anastasia p on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 06:30:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •   Right, it's simply an attack on the last unions (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jan4insight, blueoasis

      You are quite right. The "educational reform" movement is simply an assault on the final bastion of unionism. The very existence of teachers unions  is an insufferable affront to the rightwing, providing an example of the kind of decent middleclass lives that the union movement once assured in countless other trades,ranging from printing to steel. Since schools cannot be automated or outsourced, a different method must used to smash the unions.

      If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

      by Valatius on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:28:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  From a decidedly lay perspective (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    too many people, blueoasis

    There is a perception that public schools are top heavy; waaay too many overpaid administrators and not enough teachers.

    "No man is rich enough to buy back his past." ~ Oscar Wilde

    by ozsea1 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 11:23:37 AM PDT

  •  The article is misrepresenting the PISA data. (0+ / 0-)

    < 10% refers to the percentage of kids getting free or reduced rate lunches not to child poverty rate. While their point may be still valid, I don't like how they manipulate the data to reach it.

  •  Absolutely, because heaven forbid (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    too many people, Tonedevil, blueoasis

    that the parents of these children might have ANYTHING to do with the way their children learn.  I teach at a community college.  I use the same material to teach with that I've used at California State University schools, but I also do some remedial work because I know some of my students are in my classes because they don't come from homes where people read on a regular basis.

    Anti-teacher = union-busting, as I said in my diary, Political Rhetoric (3): "Education reform?" STOP IT! Privatization or union-busting, please!

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 11:27:39 AM PDT

  •  The single underlying problem with education (5+ / 0-)

    is that policy is largely made by non-teachers.
      In what other profession are the professionals mere employees under the control of non-professionals?
      Can you think of an engineering department that isn't run by an engineer?
       

  •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

    Nice summary of material I've come to learn in the past several years. Now I just need to bookmark it.

    Teaching and Education are complex systems. Many of the commenters so far seem to seize on their own points of view as points of contention.

    Actually, a short diary like this one cannot address all the issues surrounding education. You've addressed an important facet, and in an admirable manner. I wish all of us could write as focused a presentation.

    None of this makes a bit of difference if they don't count your vote.

    by Toddlerbob on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 01:32:01 PM PDT

  •  Excellent article (0+ / 0-)

    Needs to become a key meme.  Unfortunately, Arne Duncan must go.

    -9.00, -5.85
    If only stupidity were painful...

    by Wintermute on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 01:57:25 PM PDT

  •  Just one thing wrong (0+ / 0-)

    with the premise—the U.S. does, indeed, turn out crappy students. I base this understanding not on PISA scores (which are not unproblematic on multiple counts) but on my own samples of the hundreds of students I deal with yearly by teaching in a large-ish private university.

    Somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 come from the many well-off, high-tax, school-obsessed suburbs nearby. That matters little: rich or poor, the vast majority (about 70%) come out of high school with 2 little problem—they can't read and they can't write. I'll also note that they have little competence in mathematics and don't know even the most elementary historical facts, nor are they more than casually acquainted with geography. In all, I wonder how they and their time has been wasted during the preceding 13 or 14 years.

    Big Education has sold us a bill of goods. They told us that they had a science of education designed to turn out teachers, which they would then certify for competence. More and more money and effort have gone into this enterprise for many years now, and the results are still pitiful. So yes, let's blame the teachers, along with those who claimed that they had ways to make them effective. Let's blame Big Education. Then let's scrap the whole system a rebuild from the ground up.

    •  Of course they can't write (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      and don't know any history or geography. Those things aren't tested.

      Those 13 or 14 years were probably spent drilling for standardized tests but doing little of the type of learning that helps you understand and retain information.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

      by anastasia p on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 06:33:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Show me a failing student (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gator

    and I will show you a house without books.

  •  Myth: Union Teachers Cannot be Fired. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Killer of Sacred Cows

    Every employer has to have a system in place to fire an employee.  Its called due process.  Districts negotiate with the Union what due process is.

    In most cases administrators would need to collect evidence and demonstrate attempts to train the Union teacher they want fired.

    The districts negotiate with the Teachers Union usually about every two years.  The districts can renegotiate rules of Due Process every two years.

    In my experience the typical administrator who wants to fire a teacher simply won't follow the rules of Due Process.  When they can't fire a teacher outright they blame the union.

    In Ohio, especially southern Ohio, teaching is a very politically charged atmosphere.  Tenure, if you can get it, is one small protection from this atmosphere.

    Teachers are not the problem.  Unions are not the problem.

    I'm just here for the Mojo!

    by Gator on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 04:58:17 PM PDT

  •  I just need to rant. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassidy3, blueoasis

    I know this is about non-university teaching, but those of us who teach at the university level are catching flak from this as well - along the lines of "what a cushy job!"

    So.

    I teach university classes. It's a full-time job.

    This coming fall, I will be in a classroom 18 hours a week. I will also be in office hours 10 hours a week. For every hour of class time, I have to spend about a half hour prepping per week, so that's an additional 9 hours a week. For two of my six classes, I have a TA or grader, which relieves some of the work, but for the other four, I can easily expect to spend up to 15 hours grading per week.

    18+9+10+15 = 52 hours a week.

    Across the six classes I'm teaching at two schools, I have 405 students.

    And I'm an adjunct. If I were on the tenure-track, I'd still be spending that much time working every week, but instead of 18 hours of classes per week, I'd probably be in the classroom for half that time (three classes a week, instead of six), in the office for half that time (six office hours per week instead of ten) and doing research for the missing 14 hours every week. It still works out to the same 52 hours per week.

    Remember this the next time you wonder what teachers and professors do. It's not a cushy job. You try being on stage 18 hours a week to the most demanding audience you'll ever face, and see how much energy you have left over at the end of it.

    Science can tell you how to clone a dinosaur. Humanities explains why this is a bad idea.

    by Killer of Sacred Cows on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 05:05:26 PM PDT

  •  Teachers are hated because they represent learning (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis

    And Americans are so thoroughly anti-intellectual that many cannot stand anyone who promotes a life of the mind.  I suspect they have a higher opinion of drug dealers and arms merchants

    Courtesy Kos. Trying to call on the better angels of our nature.

    by Mindful Nature on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:38:25 PM PDT

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