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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In The News

Reading the online New York Times today there was an article about the Chancellor of Washington D.C.'s public schools trying to abolish tenure. The woman is trying to get teachers to decide which economic package to sign up for, the tenure track with little money, or the non-tenure track with double the money. The extra money coming not from the taxpayers, but undisclosed private interests.
  1. Tenure: a person after attaining three years of probationary teaching has the right to be informed of the reason for being terminated or fired. In other words if an administrator wants to fire a teacher they need to say why!
  2. The red  herring being bantered about is that teachers unions are trying to save the jobs of bad teachers. Nothing could be further from the truth. If there is a teacher who is not doing his or her job, or is in violation of the contract, good riddance to them. All the union and tenure requires is that there has to be a good reason for the termination. How many workers feel that before your boss fires you that they should have a good reason for doing so? Come on raise your hand. Isn't that the way things should be done in the workplace?
  3. Is anyone else bothered that a non-disclosed private source is funneling money into one of the largest public school systems in the country on the condition that tenure be abolished? Who's trying to buy our public schools? For what reason? What's next, mandated curriculum or they pull the gravy train?
  4. When there is a teacher shortage that is only going to get worse as the baby boomers (like me) retire, why is there so much emphasis on how to get rid of teachers?
  5. Public schools are too important for them to be placed in the hands of the highest bidder. Corporations have already seized our universities with their research grants and have turned them into their own research and development departments and in the process tying them up with contracts that limit their academic freedom. Do we need them grabbing high schools too?
Here's and anecdote:
When I was at another school the teacher in the next room had a student teacher. The student teacher blew up at her. He screamed and yelled, called her every name under the sun, and as a result he was dropped from the program. When I left that school a few years later to teach where I am now I was surprised that he was an assistant basketball coach here and teaching in my department. That year he blew up at the head basketball coach and they nearly got into a fist fight in front of the students. My classes were large and nearly half of my students came into my class from parents requests to get them out of his class, because he wasn't teaching them anything. I talked to the dept chair, told what had happened at the previous school and asked how he even got certified as he was dropped from the program. He came in the back door through the internship program and they grabbed him because he would coach. The next year he was gone. Two years later I attended a dinner as a sponsor for the department to honor a selected student, where they received an award. This teacher was there from a private school. It gets even better, last year I was at a career day representing Southwest Writer's Workshop with a fellow teacher from another high school. Sitting there with a lot of time to talk he complained that an assistant principle at his school was giving all the teachers living hell and he came from my school and they would sure like to send him back. I asked who he was talking about and when he said the name it proved to me where bad teachers eventually wind up -- as principles.


Unknown said...

This is a shocking report, to say the very least. I am blessed to have MANY friends who are elementary and high school teachers. Bud Buckley (Confessions of a Singer/Songwriter among them). However, from what I hear they are hand cuffed from teaching. They receive NO suport from Administrators and pupils resemble punks who are products of parents who evidently don't give a damn about parenting. A child gets into trouble. Then it's my friends who get blasted. First by the parents, then by the Administration who side with the parents. I was lucky. I had good teachers. When I graduated from High School, we had 3 girls who became pregnant. When I returned to my hometown after 21 years in Texas, my old school district had 93 girls who were pregnant. No one has explained to me how this is the fault of teachers. But the Nick Nolte film of the same name has become a reality.

In college, there was (and still is) the "publish or perish" mandate. From what I gather P M, the unions are about as effective as my union (AFTRA)--which left me in a lurch many times. I could go on, but as a closing tought: I don't know how you do it, man. I really don't. From what I gather though, you are a pisitive guy who focuses on the children and reaching them. I salute you, my friend!

P M Prescott said...

I still love that movie. It's simplistic, but so true at times. The last time I saw it I was so surprised at how young and thin Morgan Freeman was in it.
For a number of years I was department chair and on the school governing body, when I moved to this school (it was closer to where I live and I walk to and from) I rediscovered the classroom and found it much more rewording. Every time I get disgusted with the hassles of teaching though I start looking at other professions and figure if it was easy and wonderful they wouldn't call it work. All jobs have their unpleasant aspects. This one has many rewards (seeing students learn and graduate), security (a biggie in this economy), benefits (health and retirement) and summers off to spend with children and grandchildren and write. It may not be many people's cup of tea, but it's mine.

Unknown said...

We need you, P M. Stay as you are!