Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Scapegoating Teachers Will Keep Good People Out Of Teaching

In the middle of a New York Magazine profile on Campbell Brown and her attack on teacher tenure in New York State is this:

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.


  1. I would not trade my tenure for double my salary. In fact, I believe that TONS of teachers would quit within a year if tenure is eliminated statewide. I also agree that I would never encourage anyone to become a teacher in this day and age. What a shame that our once great profession has become a Hellhole on Earth.

  2. Regards to Kahlenberg from one of the worst teachers in a bad school.

  3. So there is so much wrong with teaching these days, it's hard to know where to begin to comment. In the end, all these reforms will do is drive away good people. I see it in my own school. Teachers who work for two or three years leave because they are burned out and I work in a really good school. The students are lovely. We have a terrible administration, a principal who got her job through cronyism and it shows but that unfortunately seems par for the course these days. The kids, however, are so good the teachers don't care that the administration is absolutely incompetent. Even in an environment where the kids are so easy to teach, new teachers are leaving in droves. I've worked here 5 years and in 5 years I've seen almost a complete turnover in staff. How long can the system sustain itself? Is there a never-ending supply of teachers?

  4. The bottom line is that they do not care if there is a bottomless supply of teachers. The goal is to destroy public education. Public education was the great equalizer and the 1% don't want no equalizing no more. As we can see in other aspects of our rapidly deteriorating society, we are seeking mediocrity as our highest level of expression.

  5. Here's some scary information: Tisch and the incompetents at SED need to survey teacher prep programs at all the colleges and universities in NYS. What they will hear is pretty startling ... in some curricular areas of teacher education there has been a greater than 50% reduction in students enrolling in teacher education programs. Why? I don't know any parent who would support their student's desire to major in education at the college level. Not so long ago there was a near 100% placement rate for newly minted teachers in my specific subject area. These days, it is nearly impossible to find districts hiring newly minted teachers. This is even more of an issue considering folks on the PEL ("Preferred Eligibility Lists") that mandates that any teacher excessed has retention rights to be called back in that specific certification area for a period of 7 years following layoff. The numb-nuts who continue to teacher bash will be hard-pressed to explain how we're going to deal with a MASSIVE shortage of teachers. So, I say ... go ahead and make things worse because the blame will be squarely placed on the dumb ass politicos and the wicked witch chancellor and the do nothing, roll over and play dead Regents. NYS public school education is either going to PUSH BACK or simply die a painful death. We better start making our picket signs ... something tells me that things are only going to get really ugly, and sooner than folks believe. Can't wait for Cuomo's state of the state next week (not). I hope that they all get theirs one of these days and that we're all witness to their painful exit.

  6. The fact alone that the person who writes this blog would not go into teaching again is a huge indictment of the system as it is playing out. THIS is the kind of person who should be teaching 12th graders -not some simpering, boot licking nit wit apologist for reform schemes run amok. What a waste!
    -John Ogozalek

  7. The whole situation is just so sad. I can't wait to be done with this profession and move on with my life. I still love children and teaching but am done with the nonsense. I am done talking about it, thinking about it and would strongly discourage all from pursuing this profession. It is no longer a noble one. Shame on Cuomo. Shame on all of them!!!