Head-spinning data sets are the fluttering fans of both sides in the school-reform debate, concealing ideological motivation of the game’s players and the overwhelming complexity of measuring student performance, but plenty of experts disagree about how important teacher tenure really is. “Most people agree that Campbell Brown has identified an important problem: Poor kids are stuck with the worst teachers. But her approach of attacking tenure is barking up the wrong tree,” says Richard Kahlenberg, an author and senior fellow at the progressive Century Foundation, adding that polling shows tenure is so important to teachers you’d have to increase their salaries by half to make up for taking it away. (Weingarten, sworn enemy of Brown, points out that the states that have the best protections for teachers also have the best academic performance.) Low-income minority students have the weakest teachers because of economic segregation, Kahlenberg says, which suggests the solution is mixing and matching low- and middle-income kids in individual schools (something, one imagines, that would cause an uproar in nice neighborhoods already endowed with good schools). “On the tactics, I have to give Campbell enormous credit,” Kahlenberg continues. “She’s taken what most educators believe is a peripheral issue and elevated it to the cover of Time magazine. So even if she loses her lawsuits, she’s changed the public conversation—in my view, in a negative way. But I think she’s highly effective.”
Take away tenure or make it "renewable" based on student test scores and other quantifiable measures as Campbell Brown and a host of other reformers want to do (which is just a roundabout way of getting rid of tenure) and you'll end up keeping good people out of teaching.
That's the part of the argument in teacher quality that never gets publicly stated much in the mainstream media.
The more the teaching profession gets beaten up in the media and by politicians, the more insane compliance they throw on teachers in the form of ever-more "rigorous" evaluations, the more they strip teachers of protections like due process, the less likely it is quality people are going to want to teach.
Why spend money and effort to get trained and licensed as a teacher if you're going to spend your workday doing insane compliance that takes away from your ability to do your job well, get beaten up in the media seven days a week and hear the politicians in your state denigrate you as garbage as they annually impose more mandates on you?
I am in my fourteenth year teaching, but if I were doing this all over again, there is NO WAY I would go into teaching.
Seriously, who needs to be told what a piece of shit you are, how you're responsible for poverty and the achievement gap and income inequality and a danger to national security to boot (which Joel Klein and Condi Rice actually said)?
I teach seniors and when we talk about college majors and career options and some tell me they are thinking about teaching, I tell them to think long and hard about that before they embark on the journey.
Teachers and the teaching profession are under constant assault, a barrage that never seems to end but just gets heavier and heavier as the years go by.
I tell students they must be aware of the political battles going on around schools and teachers before they decide to teach, because these battles will effect them greatly, make their jobs much harder than they have to be, and perhaps even make it such that their career choice will be turned into nothing more than an at-will position that they can be fired from for any reason.
I'm not trying to dissuade students from going into teaching, but I do want them going in with their eyes open and their minds aware.
Teachers are scapegoats for so many of the problems this country faces and no one should go into the profession without knowing that there's going to be a lot of excessive blame they'll carry along with their other job duties and responsibilities.