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In the district where I have logged over 14 years of faithful labor, they have a touching ceremony at the start of every school year. In increments of five years, employees who have devoted their professional lives to the students of the community are recognized and given pins to commemorate their time served. The applause for those with 5 or 10 years in the bank is polite, but by the time that teacher or staffer who has logged three or four decades in the district is called to the front, the applause is boisterous, and the tribute is genuine and heartfelt.

There was a time when being a veteran teacher was an honor of sorts, a position of respect that the wide-eyed rookie held as an object of aspiration.

Today, through the machinations of politicians on the right and their enablers on the "center" and "left," the veteran teacher has apparently become the barrier to quality education. So, aided and abetted by the "reform" community, those politicos on the right wing are looking for new and innovate ways to fire those same veteran teachers.

Case in point: the bill currently rolling through the state Senate in New Jersey that would eliminate the protections that come with "tenure" after the third year on the job for teachers.

In its place, a four-tier evaluation process (which would rate teachers on a continuum from "ineffective" to "highly effective") would rate teachers annually. If a teacher were rated in the top two categories ("effective" or "highly effective") for three consecutive years, they would be granted tenure. However, if after that point they were rated as "partially effective" or "ineffective" for two consecutive years, they would be stripped of that tenure.

In the most uproarious part of the bill, it is being moved through the legislative process, despite the fact that the parameters of that four-tier continuum still do not exist. An evaluation program is currently being piloted in just 10 school districts across the state.

In other words, in less than two years, a law will be in place that will make it easier to fire "partially effective" teachers. For the moment, however, it is something of a mystery as to exactly what the definition of "partially effective" will be.

(Continue reading below the fold)

New Jersey is hardly the trailblazer on this particular issue. "Tenure reform" has long been a sacred cow in the reform community. Indeed, when New York's GOP-led state Senate went after the issue last year, it earned an editorial of praise from "Democrat" and "reform" advocate Michelle Rhee. Ironically, Rhee felt the need to exaggerate her own years of service while condemning veteran teachers. She proclaimed herself "a former teacher with almost 20 years in the field," while conveniently omitting that only three of those 20 years were actually in the classroom.

But in her op-ed, she leveled the following charge:

Why is LIFO ["Last in, First out"] so bad for kids? First, research indicates that when districts conduct seniority-based layoffs, we end up firing some of our most highly effective educators. These are the inspiring and powerful teachers that students remember for the rest of their lives.
This is rather uproarious, because it takes a small truism and attempts to make a larger point. For example, let us assume that a set percentage of every new class of teachers are "highly effective." If layoffs are done based on seniority alone, then ... sure .. "some of our most highly effective" educators would lose their jobs.

What Rhee is implying, of course, by inference is that these less experienced teachers are somehow inherently more valuable than their senior colleagues. This is an article of faith with many in the reform community, and the ideological underpinning behind organizations like Teach for America, a program that is beloved by many in the reform community but whose record has been mixed.

Multiple studies, however, have contradicted this assumption. Those studies have shown teacher effectiveness grows with experience.

One of the conflicts inherent in these kind of reform measures, of course, is trying to define what "effectiveness" is, and what should be done for those teachers who fall on the low end of the evaluative scale. The text of the New Jersey Bill, authored by Democrat Teresa Ruiz, makes clear that efforts should be made to assist and offer professional development to teachers who fail to meet the "rubric" created to measure effectiveness. But the administration of anti-union blowhard Gov. Chris Christie tipped its hand during the Senate hearings, arguing that the bill would not require "vast sums of new money" and that districts would need to "repurpose" already existing (to say nothing of scarce) funds.

So, don't get caught up in the lofty rhetoric. The goal of the political entities pushing these kinds of reform is not about improving education, since professional development gets cast aside with such a casual flick of the wrist. The goal of these "reforms" is to fire teachers, as easily and painlessly as possible.

Of course, there are other, far simpler motives for wanting to dismiss veteran teachers in favor of less experienced personnel. The most glaring of these, especially in the current budgetary environment, is money. "Reformers" will swear up and down that "reform" of tenure and seniority-based employment practices is about "excellence" and not cash. That's either naive or disingenuous. If my district (I chose Long Beach, California, but virtually any district could serve as a substitute) can save over $33,000 per year by firing a teacher with 30 years of experience and a master's degree, and replace them with a rookie teacher with a master's degree, it is hard to imagine that financially strapped districts won't be looking for reasons to show veteran teachers the door.

There is also the very real prospect of union-busting hidden within these kind of seniority-reform packages. More often than not, it is not the rookie teachers leading the unions in school districts across the country. It is veteran teachers, who could find themselves under increased scrutiny by district administrators, who will now be granted the tools to ease the road to dismissal of those union leaders. Again, to think that district administrators won't abuse their added authority vis-a-vis personnel to impact the very unions they lock horns with is either naive or disingenuous.

This newfound crusade for "reform" of teacher dismissal is not only infuriating because of the "ready-fire-aim" school of legislating (which seems to be an epidemic for "education reformers"). It also grates because, as one new study this week revealed, it is a response to what is, to a real extent, a manufactured crisis.

To that point, consider the following: even as the massive Los Angeles Unified School District (as well as some statewide politicos) continues to ponder a "fix" to the issue of dismissal reform, a study by the local NBC affiliate in Los Angeles uncovered that the LAUSD had encountered little difficulty getting rid of problem teachers. The district had fired nearly a thousand teachers in the past year alone, and only a handful of them (9 percent) even bothered to request appeal hearings. Of that rather small minority, only two of them went all the way through the appeals process—both lost.

This, it would seem, drives a sledgehammer into the shopworn meme that tenured teachers are "impossible" to dislodge. LAUSD school board member Tamar Galatzan claimed elsewhere in the article that changes were needed because of how often poor teachers win reversal of their firings on appeal, endangering students. But NBC4's investigation of the district's documents proved that had not occurred in the past three years, even amid the aforementioned wave of firings.

Of course, the sheer volume of doomsday proclamations regarding the teaching profession in this most recent war on educators is simply stunning. From Michelle Rhee's forehead-slapping claim in 2011 that the seniority ("tenure") system in education would cost the United States 75 million jobs to claims that fat union contracts are destroying state budgets (this study suggests little difference between states with or without collective bargaining), there is lamentably no shortage of alarmist teacher bashing to be had.

Earlier this year, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan seemed to note that, when he said the following:

“We have beaten down educators. We have to elevate the profession, strengthen the profession. Great teachers, great principals make a huge difference in our nation’s children."
The irony, of course, is that Duncan has also refused to distance himself from Michelle Rhee. Yes, the same Rhee who is the darling of right-wing governors and right-wing think tanks. The same Rhee who makes a pretty comfortable living attacking teachers and teacher unions while coddling corporate interests (that inane outsourcing comment, for example, came before the Chamber of Commerce, in effect absolving them from any role in outsourcing).

Duncan might really wish for less invective to be hurled toward teachers. I really would like to take him at his word on that. But when he (and, for that matter, his boss) refuse to stand up for teachers in the midst of a relentless barrage being leveled by right-wing politicos, and the "reformers" who enable them, it is hard not to see his January speech as the kind of empty election year political rhetoric designed to placate that still-sizable contingent of Americans who still respect the hard work of teachers, in spite of the mountain of teacher-bashing propaganda that have become an all-too-common component of our public conversation.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 06:45 PM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Progressive Hippie, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We Shouldn't Talk of This as a Rightwing Problem. (43+ / 0-)

    It's rightwing policy of course but it's BROADLY bipartisan.

    Of course the veteran teachers are the biggest problem for them, they have the most knowledge of what crap this reform program is.

    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 Mar 18, 2012 at 06:49:22 PM PDT

  •  there are plenty of alternative seniority systems (5+ / 0-)

    other than tenure that are fair and the unions should be open to them if nothing but to blunt the deregulatory tendencies of charter school creation.

    slutty voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare."

    by annieli on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:02:52 PM PDT

    •  agreed completely (9+ / 0-)
      So, don't get caught up in the lofty rhetoric. The goal of the political entities pushing these kinds of reform is not about improving education, since professional development gets cast aside with such a casual flick of the wrist. The goal of these "reforms" is to fire teachers, as easily and painlessly as possible. Of course, there are other, far simpler motives for wanting to dismiss veteran teachers in favor of less experienced personnel. The most glaring of these, especially in the current budgetary environment, is money. "Reformers" will swear up and down that "reform" of tenure and seniority-based employment practices is about "excellence" and not cash. That's either naive or disingenuous. If my district (I chose Long Beach, California, but virtually any district could serve as a substitute) can save over $33,000 per year by firing a teacher with 30 years of experience and a master's degree, and replace them with a rookie teacher with a master's degree, it is hard to imagine that financially strapped districts won't be looking for reasons to show veteran teachers the door

      slutty voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare."

      by annieli on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:11:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Are you not reading the research. We don't know (8+ / 0-)

      what makes teachers effective. We certainly should reward those that are. Without a system that does this, seniority works as well as any. In most systems, the seniority limits at 8-12 years.  NO other system makes any logical sense. Plus, no other system can be implemented without incredible cuts to senior teachers like me.

      •  I agree with you. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OjaiValleyCali, brein, Linda Wood

        It's a much easier task to know a teacher is effective than to define why this is so. But in some ways, longevity is a useful proxy. Most people find out fairly early on whether they are good teachers or not, and often will seek other vocations if they find out that they are not. We tend to enjoy doing those things we do well; those who persevere as educators would, I hope, be the ones who have a gift for it. In any event, the idea of using student or administrative rating tools for advancement or retention seems fraught with moral hazard; why should a teacher give a rip whether a kid gets an education if making the attempt to institute and adhere to some standard of achievement if doing so will kill your ratings?

        Your black cards can make you money, so you hide them when you're able; in the land of milk and honey, you must put them on the table - Steely Dan

        by OrdinaryIowan on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:04:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  If you were rated as ineffective for two (6+ / 0-)

    consecutive years in any job, you would be shown the door, why do you think teaching should be different?  I actually don't think you should be rated as a senior teacher until after at least 5 years, I would think it would take as least that long to develop into a good teacher.  

    •  well that would depend (25+ / 0-)

      on what the rating was based on and who was doing the rating.

      And the real problem is that there simply isn't any reliable standardized metric by which every teacher can be measured. The variables (sometimes called "students") are too complex.

    •  that can be done now (16+ / 0-)

      It just takes an administrator that documents the problems.

      The idea that teachers who have collective bargaining and tenure cannot be fired is simply not true.

      •  That also goes for any profession (0+ / 0-)

        particularly USPS. Even for the grocery business. I worked for years at an Albertsons. My store was non-union, but we reaped benefits from the Albertsons stores that were (I was much younger and conservative in those days). Meanwhile King Soopers, a union shop, got nothing but gripes from my mom for poor service. She liked the way my Albertsons was run.

        She, of course attributed the whole thing to unions. The belief is that unions prevent management from exercising any discipline in the workplace. The inmates run the asylum according to that view.

        At a Christian retreat about 20 years ago I met a guy who worked at an Albertsons that was unionized but he refused to join because doing so would cause him to be non-submissive to authority - a sin.

        liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

        by RockyMtnLib on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:15:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And how do you rate "effective" (18+ / 0-)

      Is it just getting good scores on standardized tests?

      Let me give you something to think about.  Let's suppose you're a middle school teacher.  Let's suppose you get a classroom full of kids that come from broken homes and parents working two jobs to pay the rent and don't have much time to devote to their kids' education.  Most of your students are on a morning breakfast program. Let's suppose most of them read well below grade level.  And you're in an old building with boiler problems, so it's usually either steaming hot or freezing cold in your classroom, and your textbooks are nearly as old as your students.

      A teacher in the neighboring district, which is much more affluent, teaches the same grade and subject, but is teaching in a new building with new textbooks and computers.  Those kids are pretty much at grade level for the most part.  Many of the parents are educated professionals with good paychecks, and are able to devote more attention to their childrens' education.

      Now...tell me how you rate which teacher is going to be "effective", in a way that takes those factors fairly into account.

    •  The problem is in the rating system, & as noted in (8+ / 0-)

      the diary, there is no tested, validated rating system to base this on. Test scores are far more closely related to poverty levels than to teacher effectiveness and, as we've seen in DC & several Texas districts, are vulnerable to cheating by the stakeholders. Ratings by the administrators are highly subjective & vulnerable to abuse, which is why tenure was established in the first place. Until an effective rating system is developed and validated, it is ludicrous to think that teachers' careers should be disrupted by this sort of bureaucratic nonsense. In the absence of such a system, it is obvious that this is a cover for an effort to remove teachers that the administration wants removed for reasons unrelated to "effectiveness."

      -5.12, -5.23

      We are men of action; lies do not become us.

      by ER Doc on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:24:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  public service protections, for one (7+ / 0-)

      Most teachers are public servants, like policemen and firemen.  We make public servants hard to fire because we worry about political interference in their work.  

      Teachers are no different.  The current fight against teachers and teacher's unions is a political fight, and not one to help children.  Yes, some teachers need to be fired.  But, the current systems for identifying such teachers is seriously flawed, and hurts both children and the teaching profession.  

      Yes, Virginia, there is an alternative to the death penalty! http://www.vadp.org

      by econlibVA on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:43:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In California, you're probationary for 2 years (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      emptythreatsfarm, brein, Linda Wood

      That means that you can be let go for any reason or no reason at the end of either of those two years. (Note: usually they're on 1 year contracts, so you can't send them packing in December, although often teachers who are not fitting and are aware they will not be renewed resign voluntarily.)

      One of the side effects of this that you might not expect is that a principal has to feel pretty confident by March of the 2nd year what s/he wants to do with this teacher. It means that they need to really pay attention from the beginning to get that teacher the mentoring and support needed, and to make all possible haste in determining if this person is going to grow into an effective teacher who will fit into the school or not. It means they are thinking about this teacher's evaluation all the time.

      If you lengthened this to 5 years, paradoxically, there would be less hurry. In a principal's busy day, that new teacher might get less attention. And it's a lot easier to lose track of how many years of service a teacher has at 5 years than at 2 and simply forget to non-renew. You can easily make the case that this would result in ineffective teachers staying in the classroom longer.

      Where this breaks down is when a school is deluged with first and second year teachers. In that case, the principal may not have time to properly evaluate and support the new teachers. This is a key reason to find a way to ensure that experienced teachers anchor all schools, so that new teachers come in at a manageable pace.

      The reality is that a lot of teachers leave the field after one or two years. Principals are weeding out people who don't work out; there is also substantial self-selection among teachers who recognize that they are not as effective as they want to be. Even after two years, there's a long way to go, and many teachers are counseled out after that.

      The bigger issue with firings tend to be older teachers who are perhaps slowing down and teachers who don't fit with a staff or principal at their current school. These are harder cases to handle, and the private sector struggles with them as well. Nevertheless, they're not solved by 5 year tenure anyway.

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

      by elfling on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:25:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In Tennessee they are now having to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grimjc, Abra Crabcakeya

        observe every teacher four times every year.  Every teacher!!  They will have to hire more administrators to do that!  So, how will hiring more administrators improve education in classrooms?  We need an army of reading specialists and special educators to deal with the children who don't learn through instruction in the mainstream classroom.  We don't need more administrators.

        •  TN is pulling teachers out of classrooms (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26, Abra Crabcakeya, brein

          to complete the Milken family-of-wall st-frauds TEAM evaluations system. (here's a bit on TN's fraudulent teacher eval For more, see my long comment below)

          The Milkens' produced white papers with manipulated data as "research" whose target audience is public relations firms pretending to be news organizations.
          The scores of TEAM evaluated teachers follow a Bell-shape distribution (according to their research), only 15% of teachers will achieve scores above (4) or significantly above (5) expectations. It is nearly impossible for 85% of teachers to average scores of 4 to achieve tenure. Our trainer repeatedly told us that "at expectations" must be scored a (3). We were trained never to score higher than a (3) on all but 1 -2 indicators. That is, no one will average (4s) or (5s), out of 12 indicators.

        •  The irony is that these formal evaluations (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26

          will take time away from the casual observations and evaluations that principals would otherwise do, dropping in unannounced for 5-10 minutes at a time say once a week or so, that are probably far more useful.

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

          by elfling on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 08:09:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Doesn't it depend on how the measuring of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, Focusmarker, Linda Wood

      effectiveness is done?  If it's one test given on one day
      to a group of five year olds?  And no one knows what's on the test because that has to be kept secret?  Test security demands it!  In some states, music teachers are being rated on the basis of tests in subjects they don't even teach, i.e. math and reading!  And if you are a musuc teacher and you see students 1 hours per week, can you measured by the same system as teachers who have the students in their classrooms for 20 hours per week?  Don't all these things matter?

  •  I have seen this from both sides. I am a college (23+ / 0-)

    professor with tenure. I also served on our local school board in NJ for 6 years in the 1990s. I would like to see a slightly longer path to tenure. IN NJ, teachers receive tenure after 3 years. Because of the way the notification system works, most decisions are made after only two years. I would like to see a longer time frame so that new teachers have a longer period to learn to become effective instructors. In higher education tenure decisions are made after 6 years.

    I am also concerned about ageism. From a financial perspective, boards and superintendents may want to replace senior teachers with younger, cheaper non-tenured teachers. I would hate to lose experienced and effective teachers.

    •  I'm not sure one should model k12 tenure after (5+ / 0-)

      higher ed, since a "longer time frame" only extends the stakes (I have known professors who committed suicide upon receiving negative decisions) but I agree with you about ageism which raises a more important point about mentoring, professional development and the retraining of senior teachers which should get more attention from colleges of education. A greater political reform of school district localism and state/federal financing would go far in changing the situation.

      slutty voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare."

      by annieli on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:25:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Totally agree with you... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annieli, RainyDay, Linda Wood

      I have seen my kids having some horrible, tenured high-school teachers, people that never should have been teachers to begin with, and that kill subject after subject for the students.  As in all other systems, there should be accountability.  

      There is no tenure in the Swedish or Finnish school systems, from the elementary level to the university level (with the except of one rank I know of, the chair of a university dept in Sweden, but everybody retires at 65), and these countries have excellent education systems, high teacher pay, and seniority rules. And no tenure... Why is it that tenure is so holy in this country?  

      I have tenure at a research university, and I see some of my colleagues lay back and not work hard anymore after getting their tenure.  There are also teachers that work hard and do a fantastic job and who do not get the recognition they deserve.  There needs to be accountability everywhere, with some kind of job security and seniority system of course, but I honestly believe that the tenure system can be (and is) detrimental.  

      I know I am in the minority here, but I really believe that consistent good work should be rewarded, not 2-6 years of excellent good work and then you have a permanent position forever.  And I mean forever, we just had someone that passed away at near 80, still on the payroll, and barely teaching anything.  It would be in everybody's interest to have the best teachers possible, right?

      "Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, Something you do, something you are, and something you give away." Robert Fulghum.

      by profmom on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:31:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nonsense (8+ / 0-)

      College instruction and employment has nothing to do with the way it is in k-12, starting with the fact that college professors often can't, and don't, teach. We've had a very effective system in NJ for decades, it works well, Since you're in NJ i suggest you check out Jersey Jazzman's blog and become better informed. As a school social worker in NJ who is very good at what I do, I have been rated ineffective at times due to the only criteria I am measured on; paperwork, enormous amounts of it, detailed and redundant and impossible to do correctly when you have hundreds of meetings face to face with children and families per year. Tenure has saved my butt a numberof times when asbestos was being removed improperly and I complained ( most schools in NJ are still full of the stuff ) and when vindictive parents accused me of all sorts of unfounded malpractice, 3 years to tenure is just fine; what is being done here is the elimination of tenure so that Norcross and Adubato ( long a champion of vouchers for Catholic schools ) can ram this trhough ( Ruiz is an Adubato stooge ) knowing a republican governor will sign the bill and they can blame him later. Hard earned job protections, brought about as a response to years of sytemic abuse, about to go down the drain when even the majority of the democratic caucus is not in favor of it; Corzine would never have signed such a bill, no Democratic governor inNJ would have, so they got their patsy, the one the bosses wanted because they disliked Corzine, republican Christie who is urging this on. I have 24 years in. I hope I survive for 25, and take early retirement and get out of this fucking hostile state. This is the thanks I get for saving the district from lawsuits, saving lives and helping children and families in crisis. Bitter, your fuckin A i'm bitter....

      •  It is a load of nonsense. It will not improve (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grimjc, quill

        education.  It will tear it up.  And in 10 or 15 years, after the damage is done, people will start looking around and saying what did we do?  It's a tragedy and the public is not informed and doesn't understand what is being done and how destructive it is.  Pure and simple.  And the saddest part for us teachers is the knowing that the children who do need more than the system is currently giving them will still not be helped.  

    •  They "may" want to? I'd say that's the goal of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quill

      the entire reform agenda.  By the way, your statement about a "longer period to become effective" suggests that after a teacher gets tenure, she (and I use "she" because it is an overwhelmingly female-dominated profession, stops working to improve.  That is not my experience in schools.  Most teachers continue to strive to improve, esp. if there are incentives in place to drive improvement.

    •  The median years of experience (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quill, Tonedevil

      in the US teaching force is ONE YEAR. Thanks to Race to the Top and no CHild left behind.

      IN 1984-85, the median years of experience was 15.

      We're destroying the profession. Duncan needs to go and Obama needs to know he's lost the support of millions of teachers.

      dumpduncan.org

  •  What a surprise. Education "reformers" lie! (20+ / 0-)

    Somehow, I think we make a mistake when we think that the rating systems are strictly about teachers (I teach at the college level, so I'm relatively immune from this, but I find the whole system K-12 teachers have to suffer through deplorable).  We're not going to make progress here unless we describe this as union-busting, which is pure and simple what it is.

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:15:42 PM PDT

  •  Tenure is a totally outdated concept (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    profmom

    and it's particularly indefensible for teachers of children. It stifles the development of new concepts and ideas in higher education and contributes to a closed-rank, "us vs. them" mentality.

    "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

    by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:15:49 PM PDT

    •  and what do you do for a living? (7+ / 0-)

      I think we should be open about our biases in this discussion, and that's why I'm asking.

      All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

      by Dave in Northridge on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:18:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not germane to the discussion (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annieli, profmom

        But in the interest of full disclosure I work in conflict forecasting and state stabilization efforts for a private consulting group.

        "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

        by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:22:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  well... (6+ / 0-)

        I am a teacher with tenure and I am against tenure.  You asked the poster, but I just wanted to let you know that not all teachers are for tenure. I see some of my colleagues slacking off and no try very hard to be the best teachers they can be.  Why shouldn't we all have to live up to the same accountability and standards?

        However, I really think there should be good, fair ways of evaluating teaching efficiency, and these methods are just in their infancy.  

        "Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, Something you do, something you are, and something you give away." Robert Fulghum.

        by profmom on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:34:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Student rankings of tenured vs. non-tenured (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          profmom, RainyDay

          professors, and this is only in higher education, show a huge drop off in student evals of professors before and after tenure is granted. As a rule - tenured professors care only about publishing and very little about the wants and needs of their students - and that goes for BA, MA and PhD programs as well.

          "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

          by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:38:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  well maybe that is a problem with the profession.. (7+ / 0-)

            ..outside the issue of tenure, then.

            I was fortunate to go to a liberal arts college where teaching came first and the pressure to publish was largely absent.

            On average, I received far better instruction from my long-tenured professors than some of the newer ones (not that they didn't have the potential to improve with experience).

            Maybe colleges and universities need to focus more on teaching but still maintain tenure.

            •  You are probably right... (5+ / 0-)

              Smaller liberal arts colleges have probably much better professors in the classrooms, since at the large research universities the faculty is primarily evaluated based on research performance, not teaching performance.  I think that is a really big problem, since professors are hired to research AND teach at the large institutions too.

              "Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, Something you do, something you are, and something you give away." Robert Fulghum.

              by profmom on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:10:13 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Community colleges seem to (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sayitaintso, Linda Wood

                have professors who enjoy teaching and will really work with their students one to one.

                I started college in '70 and the teaching skills of the professors were highly variable with the majority being barely adequate. My children started in '99 and '04 with tuition rates astronomically higher than mine. (The first semester check I distinctly remember writing for $236.00 for 15 credit hours).

                The stuff they have put up with from professors at 2 well regarded Universities (OSU and CO School of Mines) I consider unethical. When I tried to complain about one, I was told that even though I was paying the tuition, only the student could complain about the teaching. Is it a wild fantasy to think even college professors should have to take some kind of class in teaching methods? (My PhD dad is the classic example of a smart man who could hardly teach shoe lace tying)

                I have many concerns about the path education has taken in America. My biggest problem is the degree to which learning is not presented as the wonderful, enjoyable human endeavor that it is. The shame, ridicule, underlying threats, etc. that are all too common in various levels of teaching is appalling.

                I want to point out that nursing is having many of the same problems. We begin with allowing a 2 year AD as entry level to a job that clearly should require a BS. (Stats have shown the higher the # of BSNs on a unit, the lower the morbidity and mortality. Some hospitals, UCH in Denver 2011 #1 Academic Hospital in America, have gone to hiring BSNs only.) In 2009 I had a temp job teaching LPN and accelerated AD RN students in a for profit program. I could not believe what was being left out. In talking to a mid level hospital manager at my ACLS recert, she has become worried that the JCAHO requirements are killing critical thinking in nursing practice. I would add hospital managers - non critical thinkers don't see the care deficiencies that result from budget cutting.

                The tendency to fire the older experienced nurses was really prevalent in the 90's. I was cost sized out of a job in '92. Subsequent  research showed that when these nurses were replaced by much younger nurses or new grads, the incidence of complications, length of stay, etc. got worse.

                Mentoring and orientation programs have improved significantly since I was expected to be fully independent after a week of orientation to a step down unit (between critical care and regular floor) in 2000.  Hospitals like UCH have instituted nursing internship programs that are based on the medical ones. We needed them in the 70's.

                The nursing equivalent to teaching to the test is practicing to the statistic controls. Stats on blood sugar control generated a huge amount of new policies for checking bedside blood sugars and covering them. Not 10 years later, the original research had failed the must- be-duplicated part of scientific method.

                 Currently fall prevention and medication errors are the monsters of expected nursing care. After you do all the actions and documentation; the amount of time to assess, teach, soothe, anticipate risks, etc. is pared down to inadequate and the overall stress level (lunch breaks, staying hydrated, getting calls back from doctors, etc.) is hazardous to your health and longevity.

                I think it should be fairly clear that teaching is a very difficult profession to accurately evaluate. That said, I have to believe there are good ideas out there that have been hidden, ridiculed, minimized, ignored... (Nursing ideas get all that.)

                I also have to strongly agree with the idea that no one is really competent at a job like that in less than 4 years. 4 has been the national average for fully independent job competence, not sure if there are new numbers.

                "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

                by Ginny in CO on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 10:58:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Here's your first mistake: (15+ / 0-)
            and this is only in higher education
            You do realize, don't you, that the term "tenure" means something totally and completely different in the context of this diary, right?  Or do you not understand that "tenure" for teachers in elementary and secondary education is nothing like "tenure" for college and university professors?

            "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

            by FogCityJohn on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:02:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I don’t think you are a teacher because you (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fresburger, semioticjim, grimjc

          need brains and to think teachers will survive in this climate without it, you don’t have them.

          •  Sorry.. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ginny in CO, annieli

            .. that you don't agree with me on the issues, but we can certainly agree to disagree.  I am indeed a teacher at the college level, have taught formally and informally at all age-levels for 25 years. I have the awards to prove that I am an efficient and friendly one too :)  I just don't think tenure is a solution to the education problems in America. Teachers themselves certainly deserve all the credit they can get, most of them do a marvelous job.  

            "Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, Something you do, something you are, and something you give away." Robert Fulghum.

            by profmom on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:59:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  what do you think are the education problems in US (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              grimjc, Mostel26, brein

              I think the "achievement gap"  is the biggest.
              Excellent public schools in wealthy communities v. dilapidated, dangerous ones for the poor.  "teach to the test" for poor kids, music, computers, swimming pools for the wealthy.

              The main driver  of this inequality is funding higher education from local property taxes.

              New Jersey has a smaller achievement gap,  a higher HS graduation rate for black males, and was making further progress with all-day kindergarten and pre-schools.

              Please tell me how increasing teacher turnover -- the only guaranteed product of tenure restriction-- is going to improve the achievement gap?

              Or do you see   a different problem?

              It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

              by sayitaintso on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 05:25:16 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  You don't teach k-12 (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          semioticjim

          so stop acting like you know what you are talking about, you don't.

          •  I noted the comment above about (0+ / 0-)

            your experience and how bitter you are. I have a similar situation in nursing.

            This comment landed immediately below profmom's comment that she is currently teaching at the college level and she has taught at all age levels for 25 years.

             If you are a NJ teacher posting comments at 9:46 MDT per my computer, it is 11:46 your time. Maybe it's time to get some sleep?

            "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

            by Ginny in CO on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 10:03:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  "Good, fair ways" are not in their (0+ / 0-)

          infancy.  They have been around for decades, but they haven't been shown to work.

          You can fire tenured teachers in my district.  But the administrators have to do the work.  The public has been led to believe that you can't fire a teacher with tenure ever.  That is typical disinformation used to promote a political agenda.  A teacher who is not performing can be fired.  Why isn't your district going after the slackers who are no longer trying?

        •  "I am a teacher with tenure . . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil

          and I am against tenure."  Ok, fair enough.  Have you renounced your tenure?  Because, if you haven't, then your voice means nothing to me -- I think you simply don't really believe what you say.

      •  What I do for a living? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        profmom, Balto, Linda Wood, WillR

        A job where I am evaluated every year and receive feedback regarding whether I'm meeting expectations or falling below expectations. And I scraped close to the edge at one point when my performance was below-par.

        I really think that teachers are ignorant about the degree to which they are losing contact with how normal every-day people live and what issues they face in their jobs. The idea of having normal evaluations and that the evaluations may be used as the basis for determining whom to let go is considered part of professional life for anyone trying to pursue a white collar profession. And if you have no idea how to live and function under those sorts of conditions, to the point where you become apoplectic at the very idea of being subject to those standards, you're just going to lose touch with your constituency.

        It is very, very dubious to go about claiming that you can evaluate just about everything under the sun, including student performance, but when it comes to evaluating teachers, "it's impossible, because the process is magic!"

        •  Are you sure that (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Van Buren, Mostel26, Tonedevil

          standards for evaluations in all of these other professions are fair and not prone to abuse?

          liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

          by RockyMtnLib on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:41:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Am I sure? (0+ / 0-)

            No, of course not. No system is perfect and lots of stuff is subject to abuse. It's not prone to abuse, but abusers exist. Life isn't fair, even if the system overall is fair.

            Possibly some teachers might have to find another job, perhaps in another school. Why is this the worst thing in the world?

        •  My god.... (0+ / 0-)

          finally a voice of sanity..

        •  Read what others are saying and get a clue. (6+ / 0-)

          Your premises are wrong.

          It's documented that class make-up has a huge effect on teacher performance, and when you look year to year, the best teachers have bad years. What you're demanding is that teachers be subject to meaningless metrics and be fired when they don't meet them. Even if that's the colossally stupid way things go in your field, that's no reason to subject teachers to such abuse.  

        •  Read Diane Ravitch's book. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26, JanL
        •  I had another career for 13 years before I began (12+ / 0-)

          teaching. I can assure you that the evaluations I had in that previous job made sense. They were based on written expectations with observable, measurable outcomes that were WITHIN MY CONTROL.
          As a teacher I am subject to expectations that change at the whim of the public, politicians, administrators, etc...sometimes LITERALLY from day to day.
           I am a highly educated and award-winning professional yet the public apparently doesn't want to believe that I know what I'm doing and they regularly doubt my intentions.
          I  work with 140 students a day and know what I am supposed to teach them based on the content standards but I am also supposed to teach what you might consider life or interpersonal skills based on an advisory program that doesn't exist. I also am expected to remediate those 140 students because they were supposed to learn a bunch of stuff in the years before they walked into my classroom. I am supposed to plan all of this stuff and create the lessons without any significant time because the public is increasingly hostile to allowing us any planning time. I can't explain that.
          The parents of my students give birth to them and then, for the majority, they check out. Sometimes, in a heart-breakingly often number of times, they abuse their kids. My students come to school with no supplies, hungry, tired, weighted down with all manner of concerns but I can't fix any of those circumstances.
          I can show you all sorts of great work that my students do and if you could talk to them you'd hear about the crucial lessons they learn in my class that aren't part of the standards, however, all that counts is the standardized test scores from a one-day, high-stakes test. Those test scores are what the public wants to use to evaluate me. That is why teachers like me are suspicious and hostile.  We aren't afraid of being evaluated but we want to be evaluated for what we really do, for the differences we make, not for one score that does not adequately evaluate what we or our students really do.

        •  I think normal, everyday people are losing (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quill, brein, Tonedevil

          contact with how teachers live and what issues they face in their jobs.  The media which promotes the phone "reform" agenda has promoted a picture of employment in teaching that is wholly false.  The vast majority of people do not have children in public schools and haven't been in a public school since graduating from high school, so they are the ones who are out of touch.  And they don't bother to go to their local school and find out what is going on.  That 60% of the children don't speak English as their native language - they go home to a house where another language is spoken, to uneducated parents who are not educating them and cannot.  ETc., etc., etc.  Go spend a few weeks in your local elementary school and then talk about "out of touch"!

    •  Nonsense! (37+ / 0-)

      I can't imagine that. I don't think you even understand the term.

      I was a superintendent, and I supervised hundreds of teachers. Tenure meant that we needed to go through a series of (negotiated, well-defined) steps to discipline or dismiss. It didn't mean lifetime immunity. It insured that a teacher could take a little risk, in challenging students to do more!

      Without tenure, teachers (k-12 and college) are at the mercy of student evaluations. Have you been there? I have--and am now. If you give low grades, you can get fewer sections or not be re-hired at all. It forces good teachers to just give out As for nothing.

      Tenure means that when an instructor had demonstrated competence, they can rely on "due process." That is totally defensible.

      I've been the administrator who dismissed a tenured teacher. It took time, and my principals had to do their jobs. They couldn't just do "drive through" evaluations. They had to develop remediation plans. That's totally defensible.

      •  That's a wonderful profession (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linda Wood

        One where those inside can reject any and all criticism as being "uninformed" while at the same time congratulating themselves on how selfless and giving they are. It's especially wonderful for public school teachers and professors who are paid by taxpayers. There are very few others like it - which makes it completely unsurprising that teachers and professors with tenure defend will defend it to the death.

        "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

        by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:30:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Did you even read the comment. Please have some (12+ / 0-)

          type of warrant to support your point.

          Tenure does not exist in many states. Those states are not magically better than states that give them. That is pretty big whole in your argument.

          I wouldn't tell an engineer how to build a building. Why do non educators want to teach me to teach?

          •  No one is telling you "how to teach." (0+ / 0-)

            I fail to see the connection between you having tenure and people telling you "how to teach." Are you rejecting any sort of evaluation methods for your work which do not involve other educators?

            Even state medical boards, which license and investigate physicians, have spots for non-medical professionals.

            "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

            by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:57:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I would love to have evaluations that were done (11+ / 0-)

              effectively. This is my 30th year teaching, and my evaluations this year have been incredible and led me to be a better teacher.

              The problem is the the rarity of effective evaluations for teachers.  Because of this, tenure or due process, what we have in Iowa, is necessary to prevent problems. I negotiate the master contract for teachers. If I did not have due process protection, I could not be an effective advocate for teachers. At the beginning of my career, I was asked to be the Freshman-JV-Assistant Varsity Basketball coach because the head coach needed some help with discipline. I declined at first because of my lack of knowledge and skill in the sport. I was told that I would be fine because of the head coach's knowledge. I took the job. After a terrible Freshman season, poor JV season and so-so varsity season, I received a mediocre rating on my coaching. I agreed and never wanted to be a basketball coach again! However, for the only time in my career, I also received a mediocre evaluation on my teaching. That was crap. All of the negative comments had to do with basketball and the Principal, the man who asked me to coach, was upset how his sons had been played by the varsity coach. Not one comment had anything to do with my teaching of English to Middle School students. We also didn't have any union, so I had no recourse.  

              No good deed goes unpunished, but I don't think we need to vilify teachers to reform education.

              •  It seems there must be a middle ground (0+ / 0-)

                between your experience, which sounds like an awful thing to have to go through and I'm sorry you experienced it, and the granting of tenure.

                Tenure, as you well know, is not preventing the "vilification" of teachers. If that were its goal then it has failed miserably.

                "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

                by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:17:03 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  You can't create effective evaluations? (4+ / 0-)

                The problem is the the rarity of effective evaluations for teachers.  Because of this, tenure or due process, what we have in Iowa, is necessary to prevent problems.

                I'm not sure "we need tenure because we are too stupid, as a society, to effectively evaluate teachers" is a good argument.

                This diary should really be about how to create effective evaluation methods. Because that is what needs to happen, and that will help schools much more than tenure will.

                •  Teaching is as much science as art. We can't get (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mostel26, brein, Tonedevil

                  there by evaluation by legislation.

                  The biggest argument against getting rid of tenure is that many states don't have it, and they are not better than state with it.

                  Iowa doesn't have tenure. We have due process rights. That might be the best way to go.

                  The past 4 years of teaching in Iowa has been hard. We have had 10% across the board cut, no increase for inflation, and perpetual teacher bashing.

                  99.9% of teachers are not going to get fired with tenure or not. The purpose of evaluation is make teachers better. It is a false meme.

                  •  There are effective evaluations (5+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ByTor, boji, elfling, brein, Tonedevil

                    Most of them are developed by teacher partnerships, and they are most effective when they are totally non-threatening. To sit with a teacher and say: "What's one thing you can do to make your classroom better next year, and how can I help you do it?" is really powerful.

                    The worst evaluations are done by people who move into administration from outside the profession, attend some one-day workshop (often skipping out for golf in the afternoon!) and think they understand.

                    •  Some of the best are just teachers watching other (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Tonedevil

                      teachers asking how they did certain things.

                      The best conference I ever attended was a Writing Contest at Drake University in Des Moines, IA. One of the requirements was to bring 40 copies of a tested writing activity. At the start of the conference, we all introduced ourselves and quickly presented our writing activity. I received 40 writing activities at the end of the conference, and 39 were good or great ideas. One was from an administrator who had never taught writing. :)

                      We all need to be held accountable, but current evaluation systems rarely do that. Reform has to be about getting internal motivation going for teachers. I am a big fan of Daniel Pink and his book Drive.

                •  Why don't you come up with some effective (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  brein

                  evaluations of parenting first.

            •  wihtout tenure they will be telling you how (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mostel26, brein, Tonedevil

              and WHAT to teach, they already are but there's enough protection to stop the worst abuses.

              •  And what's wrong with being told WHAT to teach? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Linda Wood

                For example, it is important that a fifth grader learn certain things -- else when they move to sixth grade, esp. in another school system, they will be ill prepared to stay with the class. A student entering sixth grade being unable to do fractions, percentages, or prime factors because none of their teachers thought it very important in fourth or fifth grades has been done a great disservice.

                Public school teachers in K-12 should be told WHAT to teach. An employer should expect that a minimum level of knowledge and skills comes with a high school diploma. Without a well defined curriculum, how could this be accomplished? (Although I think it's ridiculous that there is only one classification of high school diploma in the United States, that's irrelevant to this topic since a Trades Diploma vs. a Life Skills Diploma vs. an Academic Diploma would each have their own individual expectations that dictated the "what" anyway.)

                To expect anything different is unrealistic and makes those that complain about being "told what to teach" seem irrational in the eyes of the general public (and taxpayer). The public is making a big investment in education, shouldn't they should expect some particular result in return for that investment?

                Surely a science teacher shouldn't be allowed to teach creationism or ID (even as " something some people believe in") and skip teaching evolution just because they want to? Without being told "what" to teach, how would a teacher be prevented from doing so?

                The "how" to teach the material is completely different and should be more flexible as different teachers have different styles.

            •  And we know how many doctors lose their licenses (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Abra Crabcakeya

              and are unable to practice!    That system is really working and protecting the unsuspecting public!

          •  Tenure exists in some form (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            boji, Tonedevil

            almost everywhere. It may not be called that, but it is the due process of dismissal.

            Students evaluate virtually all post-Secondary faculty today and many at secondary level. Non-educators DO tell us how to teach.

        •  Obviously you don't respect (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, Azazello, Mostel26, helfenburg

          the teaching profession.

          You have offered little of substance and are now simply responding with insulting language.

          That's fine. I'll give your comments on education the consideration they deserve.

          A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

          by slatsg on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:25:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was in a different profession before I became (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slatsg

            a teacher, so I can see the difference.  Same me, but in one profession, I got respect.  In the teaching?  It's not there - no respect.  Even teachers don't respect themselves sufficiently!

        •  oh the holy taxpayer (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26, helfenburg, brein, wsexson

          gets rolled out again....tenure is partially a defence against the taxpayers, who would just as soon gut everything to save on property taxes ( see prop 13, CA )

      •  Thank you - Thank you - Thank you (5+ / 0-)

        As a teacher, I bet I would have enjoyed working for you!

      •  And how well did that work out? (0+ / 0-)

        I was a superintendent, and I supervised hundreds of teachers. Tenure meant that we needed to go through a series of (negotiated, well-defined) steps to discipline or dismiss.

        Quick question-- how many teachers were ever fired under this process? How many teachers with tenure lost their job for poor performance?

        •  Wrong question: (7+ / 0-)
          Quick question-- how many teachers were ever fired under this process? How many teachers with tenure lost their job for poor performance?
          Should be:

          How many teachers with tenure needed to improve their job performance, and of that group, how many didn't (or couldn't) improve, and thereby lost their job?

          Just asking how many lost their job is utterly meaningless.

          Just saying.

          •  Read your comment after I replied (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            emptythreatsfarm, Tonedevil

            The process worked to improve education almost always. I can think of only two teachers in all those yeas who had to sit with union reps and consider options they didn't choose. And truthfully, if they had been mentored when they first began teaching, I don't think they would have ended up in that seat.

        •  Probably two; missing the point. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          emptythreatsfarm, Tonedevil

          But many others (dozens) went into a process through which they became far better teachers, and I can think of several who began the process and with sincerity decided they just couldn'd do it, moved on to sell textbooks or repair cars.

          Tenure (and an educated, participatory evaluation system) works. It's just WORK and a lot of administrators don't do it. A lot of communities place the emphasis on non-important things (from test scores to sports teams) and the administrators follow the bouncing ball.

    •  Let me educate you on tenure. (24+ / 0-)

      Teachers were at one time hired and fired capriciously - based many times on the political connections with or by the current school board.  If you didn't support a certain political candidate, you could be fired.   Tenure does not eliminate the ability to fire a teacher - tenure requires that it be for "just cause" and the just cause is laid out in the state's school code (in PA there are 10 reasons for just cause firing). Tenure allows the teacher to mount a defense and serves as a pathway for the procedure.

      It is a fair system that most people who are not in education don't understand.

      Many people think tenure means a teacher can't be fired.

      NOT TRUE.

      Isn't it enough that the right wing has gone after public unions, teachers, private unions, women's right to abortion and now contraception?

      Do teachers now have to defend themselves from so-called progressives, too?  

      •  The conflation of tenure with academic freedom (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        profmom

        is a false one. For every university tenured professor there are 20-30 adjuncts who know not to rock the boat so they can get their shot at tenure - academia is rarely rocked by the controversial theories of tenured professors.

        And when were elementary, middle school and high school teachers coming up with wild theories anyway? They don't do research.

        There are alternative ways of protecting controversial teachers and professors.

        "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

        by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:36:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "academic freedom" (9+ / 0-)

          I read the comment you replied to three times, and those words do not appear in it.  

          There are alternative ways of protecting controversial teachers and professors.
          Example???

          Ask your barista what her degree is in.

          by happymisanthropy on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:06:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You're not getting it, Shane (10+ / 0-)

          How would you like to work at a job where  you can be fired at any time, based on the results at the school board level?  How about if a parent decides you have it in for their kid and decides to invest time and energy in a vendetta against you (even if unwarranted)?

          Most people that criticize teachers have no fucking idea what they're talking about and would shit themselves if they had to deal with the shit teachers do on a daily basis.

          •  So, if it doesn't work without having a... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26, Linda Wood

            tenure system in USA, but it works in other countries, maybe it is not tenure that is the problem but that school boards and others have too much say in education?  Honestly, the politics of this country depresses me.  In the country where I was educated, teachers had no tenure, but they had permanent positions, renewed regularly, and there was no political influence over schools.  Maybe a dream for most here in the US, but I think that is what we should aim for.  Oh, and accountability and recognition for all teachers too, of course.

            "Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, Something you do, something you are, and something you give away." Robert Fulghum.

            by profmom on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:30:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  That's how most professions work... (0+ / 0-)

            ...and that's one reason many in the general public don't have much sympathy for teacher's complaints in this area.

            In private industry, people get fired all the time for what they view as "political" reasons (I've been accused of this on occasions myself).

            Entire departments get laid off because the department's product wasn't good enough, successful enough, or no longer met the strategic direction of the company.

            Employees regularly insist they got fired or laid off because others in their workplace or a customer "had it out for them".

            In other words, most people (myself included) work in such environments where there is no tenure and years of experience is irrelevant to layoff/firing decisions. (Obviously to the extent that additional experience actually makes someone a better employee rather than a better seat-warmer, that increased and demonstrated skill/knowledge is taken into account in those decisions but it's still a very subjective process).

            It may not be ideal, but the "how would you like to work in such a situation" is a dangerous question because most people DO.

            •  And so you want to "race to the bottom"? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil

              The things you note here are the sort of things that unions try to have some modicum of control over - that employees cannot be fired on a whim, that contracts be honored, etc.

              So, rather than unionize workers and increase protections, wages, etc.,  you'd rather just remove all those protections from everyone?

        •  Jesus Christ someone gave you a PhD? (0+ / 0-)

          because you couldn't even comprehend what the poster wrote.

      •  Well, at my university (0+ / 0-)

        ...ineffective teaching skills is not a reason to loose your tenure.  You have to do something criminal, or not be at the job ever (for years), before they can even start doing something to replace you with a better teacher and researcher.  We have people that are so bad in the classroom that the students are spared their teaching, so they get their salary without teaching.  These are just some of the worst examples of course, and most teachers are great, but I think the lack of accountability after you have gotten tenure is a big problem.

        At the same time, the process of getting tenure is a giant issue, since it more or less can mean the end of your career as a researcher if you don't get tenure.  We need a more flexible system, and one that allows for continuous evaluation as well as congratulations, not a one-time event early in your career.  

        "Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, Something you do, something you are, and something you give away." Robert Fulghum.

        by profmom on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:52:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well if this is the case: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, wsexson, brein
          You have to do something criminal, or not be at the job ever (for years), before they can even start doing something to replace you with a better teacher and researcher.
          I think your university has some management problems far beyond the tenure system.
          •  Actually... (0+ / 0-)

            ... the union is supporting this at times, and the management have to fight the union to deal with these cases.  The unions are protecting some faculty that really shouldn't be there.  Therefore I wish that each one of us is held accountable for our job performance, regardless of what we do and where we work, and that there isn't a blanket tenure decision early on in the careers.

            Anti-tenure is not at all the same as anti-teacher or anti-veteran teacher.  Not at all.  Quite the opposite. But I think many people misunderstand this.

            "Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, Something you do, something you are, and something you give away." Robert Fulghum.

            by profmom on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:18:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  That's at a university. Totally different in K-12 (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil
    •  But for some reason (13+ / 0-)

      engineers, doctors, lawyers, computer professionals, chefs, advertising executives and financial consultants all seem to make a career in their chosen field, and everyone seems to be ok with that.

      No one is pressing for doctors to be evaluated annually, and be forced out of medicine if they aren't highly effective in their first few years practicing. Individual lawyers may decide practicing law isn't for them, and find other work, but the percentage forced out by state bars is miniscule compared to the percentage of teachers who are fired or bullied into 'early' retirement by their districts.

      Is the only place "new concepts and ideas in higher education" can come from a place where there are no veteran teachers? In any other established profession the new concepts and ideas come from veterans. But somehow teaching is different.

      I just don't get it.

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:45:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Doctors have to recertify (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        profmom

        and take 25 hours of CME education per year in California if they passed their boards after 1990. If they passed before they have to take 25 hours of CME per year but not re-pass their boards.

        So why, again, should it be any different for teachers?

        "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

        by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:48:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Most teachers do something like that. We work on (7+ / 0-)

          furthering our education by earning advanced degrees.  We attend workshops to learn how to be better in our craft.  

          I have 25 years of experience and a masters, and I have just started a two year program to learn how to be a leader to other teachers in my subject area and to develop better pedagogical methods.  Why not pay me like a doctor?  

          Have you even read the posts on what tenure is?  You feel a little trollish....  

          Sent via African Swallow carrying a coconut

          by ipaman on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:00:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  teachers (8+ / 0-)

          usually have continuing ed requirements too.  

          Ask your barista what her degree is in.

          by happymisanthropy on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:07:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  And teachers have to maintain a license (6+ / 0-)

          which means more coursework, sometimes on an annual basis depending on individual state requirements.

          In other words, it IS the same for teachers.

          Next red herring, please.

          •  Good (0+ / 0-)

            Except, you know - physicians don't have tenure unless they're on staff at a teaching hospital.

            "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

            by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:13:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The difference (8+ / 0-)

              is that not everyone thinks they know everything about medicine, but they sure as hell think they know everything about teaching.

              Are physicians' positions usually at the mercy of school board elections?  How often do medical licensing boards and hospital hold popular elections for the people that run them?

              •  The argument for tenure keeps shifting (0+ / 0-)

                It goes from the necessity of tenure to protect controversial academics to the lack of knowledge in the general populace about the complexity of education instruction and evaluation processes to the politicization of school boards through the electoral process.

                "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

                by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:24:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not shifting at all (5+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Orinoco, vacantlook, Mostel26, brein, Tonedevil

                  Academics can be "controversial" by teaching things like evolution in the classroom in Kansas.  You get a fundamentalist crowd with little knowledge that vote in a fundamentalist school board, and what protection is that teacher going to have, exactly?

                  The only "shifting" going on is in your own mind.

                  •  Tenure is the only answer then? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    WillR

                    Why is it only applied to teachers then? Police officers make lots of controversial decisions which almost no one outside law enforcement understand and which enrage many people - yet they're not given tenure. Nor, for that matter, is any other profession.

                    "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

                    by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:37:02 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Tenure isn't identical to seniority (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Mostel26, Tonedevil

                      but I hope you aren't stating that in no other profession is seniority a factor in anything.

                      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

                      by RockyMtnLib on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 10:49:29 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  What exactly is your argument? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Mostel26

                      And how is the job of a police officer analogous to that of a teacher?  

                      As far as I know, the police officer "teaches" one thing on the job -- unquestioning obdience to the "law of me, right now."  Otherwise, there is no teaching involved.

                      They are generally given immunity to suit so long as what they do could reasonably be construed as being within what a trained police officer would think was within the law (my construct here).  And they are generally civil servants so they cant be fired without cause, once they have passed probation.

                      Oh, that civil service thingy - one could think of that as a sort of "tenure."  Because in the end, that is what tenure for teachers really is - just a guarantee of minimal due process and removal only for cause.  It is certainly not a guarantee of permanent employment as the current "reformers" try to make out.

                      So in most important aspects, police officers have more protections than teachers, not less as you imply.  Methinks you are just talking out of your ass.  Rejoinders?

                  •  So... (0+ / 0-)
                    Academics can be "controversial" by teaching things like ID in the classroom in California.  You get a progressive crowd with little knowledge that vote in a progressive school board, and what protection is that teacher going to have, exactly?
                    FTFY.

                    If "controversial" ideas are cherished and teachers are free to teach them instead of the mandated curriculum, then one can't have their cake and eat it too when the cookie crumbles the wrong way and the shoe is on the other foot. The sword, unfortunately, cuts both ways. (Sorry, I'm out of idioms now).

                    •  There is a difference (0+ / 0-)

                      One is the generally accepted scientific explanation accepted by the vast majority of scientists.  The other is not.

                      If a teacher wants to teach ID in the classroom in a humanities or comparitive religions class, more power to them.

                •  No, it has always been the same (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Orinoco, pigpaste, Mostel26

                  stop talking about higher ed, that's not the issue here...I'm trying mightily  but your reading skills seem wanting...

            •  how about policemen and firemen? (8+ / 0-)

              Shane - my wife is a schoolteacher.  She's taking this year off to take care of our little one, but the last two years she taught in an inner-city school system.  I visited one of her schools - it was terrible.  It made me very glad that she had a good teachers union to protect her from her bad principal and all the crazy stuff that happened at that school.

              I've thought a LOT about this and talked to a lot of teachers.  I think the conservative vendetta against teachers and teacher tenure is sexism, pure and simple.  Teaching is a mostly female profession, and so teachers don't get the respect that policemen and firemen get.  

              Teachers are public servants, and we give public servants more job protections because we worry about political interference with their jobs.  The very worst teachers should be fired, and sometimes are.  But that's even more true for bad policemen and bad firemen.  But almost no one talks about firing them!  In fact, it would be easy to fire the worst policemen and firemen - just fire the fattest firemen and the policemen with the most excessive force complaints.  But no one suggests this - why not?

              Folks that want to fire ineffective teachers assume that there are better teachers just waiting to take their place.  For the absolute worst teachers, that may well be true.  But for even substandard teachers, there aren't a lot of great prospective teachers waiting to take their place, especially in inner-city school districts.  The pay isn't that great, and the working conditions in many of these schools are terrible.  Besides, first-year teachers aren't very good, and if you want to fire lots of teachers, you'll have a lot more ineffective first-year teachers replacing them.

              Other countries with more effective education systems don't fire tons of teachers.  Instead they pay teachers more, recruit better teachers, and have longer school years.  They also have healthier societies, so kids don't come to school with as many disadvantages as too many of our children have.  Why don't we do that?  It would be much more effective than attacking teachers and teachers' unions.

              Yes, Virginia, there is an alternative to the death penalty! http://www.vadp.org

              by econlibVA on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:00:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  they also make a ton more fucking money (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Orinoco, sayitaintso, brein, Tonedevil

              and have to actually kill a few people before they can have their license removed.....

              •  You sound pretty angry (0+ / 0-)

                What's that all about?

                "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

                by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:12:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  For starters, compared to teachers... (0+ / 0-)

                ...they spend a LOT longer in school/"apprenticeships", typically have much higher student debt, routinely make independent decisions that can significantly extend or shorten a patient's life, and work in a profession with rapidly evolving standards of care that must be followed lest they injure their patients and/or lose their license (or get sued so much they lose their insurance and end up withdrawing from the profession "voluntarily").

                Comparing teachers and doctors is like comparing hardware developers and doctors -- it just doesn't make much sense in most dimensions in most cases. Any attempt to make that equivalence would be more harmful than helpful in the degree of respect that teachers receive from the general public.

            •  Great. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Focusmarker, elfling, Tonedevil

              So I have a plan.

              Let's track the health outcomes of their patients.

              We'll let some dumbass Republicans who are unfamiliar with healthcare, along with some folks from ALEC who have an ideological axe to grind with the medical practice come up with the patient outcome "cut scores" (there must be someone in the medical world who could be their version of Michelle Rhee).

              You will not really be informed of what the standard you must achieve is, but it will be calculated using a complicated metric derived by the private testing firm that the aforementioned group hired.

              If your patients don't reach the semi-arbitrary bar that these folks come up with, you are fired, put on probation, or have your pay docked.

              Good luck if you live in a high-poverty area where people eat a shitty diet, smoke at high levels, and don't exercise - it's YOUR FAULT they didn't do as well as the patients in the lovely upstate suburb that helped set the mysterious standard you were supposed to reach.

              Sounds fair, doesn't it?

               

              •  Yep and if you practice (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                emptythreatsfarm, Tonedevil

                in a food desert where there are no stores without fresh fruits and vegetables, not our problem. Make magic happen!

                liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

                by RockyMtnLib on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 06:45:54 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  The "highly effective, partially effective..." (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                emptythreatsfarm

                evaluation idea described at the beginning of this diary may come close to the abusive situation you set forth by saying,

                We'll let some dumbass Republicans who are unfamiliar with healthcare
                track the health outcomes of patients. I take your point, and I agree.

                But the defensiveness of teachers in discussions like this also appears to include the sentiment that no one but a public school teacher knows what is going on in the public schools or has a right to evaluate the educational outcomes of students.

                That's simply not true. Most Americans are the products of public schools. Most Americans who are intensely interested in the issue of educational reform have children currently in the public schools. Asserting that the people on the receiving end of public education have no knowledge of what is going on in the classroom or what their children's outcomes are is blinding oneself to reality. It's like saying a person who experienced a medical malpractice has no right to question the physician's acts because they have no experience in the practice of medicine.

                I agree that politicians and privateers are working to cash in on the destruction of public education for all the worst reasons. I believe the destruction of public education has been underway for decades, however, in the efforts to ephemeralize it through bad teaching methods forced on teachers. I don't blame teachers. But circling the wagons against any and all criticism of teaching methods, as if it were all coming from Republican dumb asses, is a futile evasion of reality.

                •  You won't get any argument from me! (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Linda Wood, Tonedevil

                  I think many classrooms - even more than schools on the whole - have become too insulated from the community around them for a variety of reasons.

                  I think public education, that gloriously imperfect endeavor is, and will always be, in constant need of reform in a changing world.

                  But in the current political context, I can also understand why many educators feel under siege.

                  Call me a dreamer, but I guess I feel that reform can happen without necessarily provoking this response - at least among competent teachers.

                  •  I agree with you completely about this. (0+ / 0-)
                    ... in the current political context, I can also understand why many educators feel under siege... I guess I feel that reform can happen without necessarily provoking this response...
                •  And yet, most parents say their local school (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Tonedevil

                  the one that they experience, is good.

                  It's other people's schools, the ones they haven't visited, which are not.

                  There is also an issue where people make assumptions based on how school was for them 30 years ago. Academic expectations and many other aspects of school have changed quite a bit in that time.

                  I think it's hard to make an accurate judgement of a school you've never visited, and the reality is that public schools vary tremendously across the country, good and bad.

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

                  by elfling on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 12:46:18 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I disagree with you about this. (0+ / 0-)

                    From what I have read about the impetus to act for change, parents have observed that their children aren't reading at the level they would expect for their age or aren't able to use math normally or effectively, and in looking at their homework or other educational materials coming from school, they become concerned that something is wrong with this picture. This may bring them to meetings with teachers and then with boards to discuss instructional products being purchased by districts.

                    This experience may bring parents to an unwarranted assumption that other districts and states are suffering with the same problems, but if the details shared by other parents are the same, it does become a sense that there is something to be concerned about with respect to instructional products and the teaching methods that come with them in many school districts throughout the country.

        •  Teachers have to do the same thing. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          vacantlook, Tonedevil

          I have to prove that I took a minimum number of professional development classes (that I paid for) and participated in a minimum number of other activities in order to recertify.  To get my initial certification I had to pass several exams.
          Why are you so hostile to teachers? Bad experience?

        •  Making someone take classes and firing them (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          brein, Tonedevil

          because their student didn't pass a test are two very different things.  Vastly different and not comparable at all.  Taking away a lawyer's license because he lost a case - that would be comparable to what they want to do to teachers.  Take away a doctor's license because his overweight patient didn't lose weight.  That's what  they want to do to us.  

        •  Oh for God's sake. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26, wsexson, Tonedevil

          Is that what its about?  A few continuing education hours?  Because I am licensed attorney in three states, and a registered professional engineer in two.  For all of these licenses, I have to take continuing education - generally, 45 hours over three years to be a licensed attorney, and 24 every two to be a licensed engineer.  My wife, however is a licensed teacher - she has to take 125 hours every three years, with the qualifications of the course provider approved in advance by the state authority.

          So, state licensing seems to take care of this deterioring skills argument.  Next?

    •  NO, it protects teachers from (9+ / 0-)

      being fired because we say dare to say no to principals, administrators and parents. Shame on you for being on this website and being anti-teacher.

    •  States with and without tenure compare fairly (7+ / 0-)

      evenly.

      We have to get over these debates about education. Three problems with our educational system that will not be impacted by tenure or first in first out laws.

      1) We have a huge imbalance in achievement for those in poverty and those out.
      2) Students in high poverty schools do much worse than students in all other schools.
      3) Constant reform has prevented any reform from being implemented and being successfully studied.

      What we do know:
      1) Rigor and Relevance matters.
      2) Student based learning leads to more learning than teacher based learning.
      3) Most teachers care a lot more than anyone gives them credit for.

    •  Tenure (8+ / 0-)

      I do have some problems with the tenure system.  I would agree that in some instances it might be useful to have a longer process of tenure evaluation, and there are certainly instances in which tenure is abused.

      However, the vast majority of tenured teachers that I've known throughout my life, both k-12 and higher ed., have been very serious and dedicated professionals who worked above and beyond what was technically required of them.

      A key reason for tenure is to ensure that teachers retain significant control over the educational process, rather than administrators and politicians.  With tenure teachers gain a voice and the power to counter-balance the influence of management.  I'm not saying that educational managers always wrong and teachers always right -- I've known many very talented and dedicated managers as well! However, both parties are necessary -- it's really a system of checks and balances (similar to the way federal judges are granted life-time tenure so they have the ability to stand up to the political branches of government).

      To me it's quite absurd to suggest that education will be improved by weakening or silencing the voices of teachers and elevating the voices of bureacrats who are primarily interesting making sure the numbers all add up right. What we see in a lot of modern educational "reform" is essentially the attempt to shift control from the hands of teachers to the hands of the managers.

      And yes, for purposes of full-disclosure, I am a tenured teacher :)

    •  Due process should never be outdated. (11+ / 0-)

      I realize that it's a quaint concept but I guess that I am just old-fashioned.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:51:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree - ancient in some form or another n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Azazello

      They say there are strangers who threaten us, ... That those who know what's best for us | Must rise and save us from ourselves. "Witch Hunt" - Neil Ellwood Peart, Canadian lyricist with the band "RUSH".

      by Hualapai on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:52:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tenure began in 1915 (0+ / 0-)

        so not ancient at all.

        "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

        by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:54:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't want to start a pie fight (0+ / 0-)

          I guess I got a bit etherial.  Sorry about the confusion.  

          I was thinking of things that might look like tenure but not labeled as tenure.  To me that would include many of the origins of the liberal arts education and how professors were regarded.  

          My error in being so ethereal.  

          They say there are strangers who threaten us, ... That those who know what's best for us | Must rise and save us from ourselves. "Witch Hunt" - Neil Ellwood Peart, Canadian lyricist with the band "RUSH".

          by Hualapai on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 10:42:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The development of new concepts and ideas in (5+ / 0-)

      higher education has been going on for years with veteran teachers in place. It is often the veteran teachers who are best able to evaluate the effectiveness of these new concepts and ideas in actual practice, and tenure is one factor that allows veteran teachers to say that someone's new pet project is actually a bad idea, and why. Inexperienced teachers are less likely to recognize the problems with a new idea, and are more likely to just do what they're told until the problems become glaringly apparent, and numerous children's educations may be seriously impaired in the meantime.

      -5.12, -5.23

      We are men of action; lies do not become us.

      by ER Doc on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:36:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Are there any longitudinal studies to back (0+ / 0-)

        that up?

        But if true I see how it can make the case in a way better than anyone else has so far in this diary.

        "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

        by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:39:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That would be a pretty tough study to design... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ginny in CO, Mostel26, Tonedevil

          We're talking about testing the ability to evaluate a series of new ideas in teaching, over many years, over a large group of teachers, many of whom would have moved from the "inexperienced" group to the "veteran" group during the course of the study. The ultimate "meta".

          -5.12, -5.23

          We are men of action; lies do not become us.

          by ER Doc on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:05:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Indeed (0+ / 0-)

            There have to be evaluation methods though and some of those are going to require feedback from outside the education system.

            As I said before - the CA Medical Board is not a board composed solely of physicians. It investigates and issues decisions with input from other professions and from advocates as well as patients. Physicians make tough choices all the time yet they are not given tenure and no one would suggest they be given tenure. I fail to understand why teachers should be any different.

            "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

            by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:17:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Because you seem to have no idea how (6+ / 0-)

              powerful physicians are in terms of ducking complaints, evaluations, and flat out malpractice. It has gotten better since the hospitals figured out that the biggest reason nurses quit is: doctors being unprofessional.

              That includes ignoring information from the nurse that is critical to act on. If the doctor doesn't act and the nurse doesn't go over or around him/her, it is the nurse who 'failed to rescue' the patient.

              How about some of our death care stats? Per the 2009 stats, the third leading cause of death in America is: US medical care. # 11 is not having access to # 3. Doctors have a lot of room for improvement in practice and peer evaluations. The younger ones with horrible student loans to pay off are having a little more trouble getting to the wealth class of the older ones. They are not hurting.

              There are some really difficult variables in teaching that have been alluded to here but not fully discussed.

              The discrepancy of district funding because of how it has been tied to property values. Hence poor districts have to teach kids with many more problems and far less support and resources with far less money per student than wealthy suburban districts.

              We are not just talking hunger, shabby clothes or minimal school supplies. The cycle of poverty begins in utero when your mom has stress hormone levels that are too high too often. It promotes hind brain development (the stress response area) over frontal cortex (executive function, etc.) Then if the stress continues during early childhood, brain development during that time is decreased. The areas that miss the development time table are generally unable to ever to be fully developed.

              Then there are a whole lot of health issues that they don't get adequate care for. Their access to safe outdoor play areas is limited because the neighborhoods are too poor and the parents can't be home after school, so they are warehoused in after school baby sitting.

              Add a lousy diet plus parents who are exhausted and know little about what support children need to learn, it's a wonder these kids learn anything. A teaching wonder. The love of learning is human nature until experience teaches you to hate it.

              "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

              by Ginny in CO on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 10:48:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  There's tons of it. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil

          have you ever gone to the library or gone on-line to look for it?  Somehow I think not or you wouldn't be asking the question.

    •  I call that BS! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil
  •  Not newfound! (11+ / 0-)

    I'm not well known in the community, but I'll admit a few decades of teaching experience! I received an award (personally) from Reagan, and at the same time watched the beginning of the downgrading of real teaching. What I was trained to value--inquiry--was derided (in an editorial in a national magazine.)

    "Back to basics" seemed OK to the Reagan-worshipers. What it actually meant was forget about any independent thinking. Just "toe the line." Now, what does that tell you about the origin of the Teabagger voters?

  •  Term limits for teachers (10+ / 0-)

    (equivalency of term limits for politicians but with employment instead of elections) What next? We can't keep anyone on that is employed by the government more than a few years? (that's the job of lobbyists)  Just imagine getting a fire-fighting crew out to put out a blaze with 3 years or less experience each.

    I support the troops! I want them to return home in something besides caskets and body bags. (-6.5,-4.1)

    by minidriver on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:20:13 PM PDT

  •  Corporate america "management" techniques (13+ / 0-)

    and processes being badly applied to education. Look what it did and still does to medical care.

    Response: If you "got it" you wouldn't be a republican

    by JML9999 on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:21:18 PM PDT

  •  Teacher evaluation processes (14+ / 0-)

    based on student test results are on questionable ground.

    Most teachers have a different group of students each year. It's much akin to comparing apples and oranges.

    Every study I've seen (and they're far and few in between) which attempts to look at teachers who have the same set of students over multiple years has a very large statisitcal deviation.

    All of this is bashing public edication "because we can."

    Never separate the life you live from the words you speak. --Paul Wellstone

    by Cordelia Lear on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:23:21 PM PDT

  •  I have nothing but anecdotal evidence (6+ / 0-)

    But my own experience as a student was that in early years, those with the most experience were the best, but by the time I got to high school, the best teachers were the younger ones.  In fact, I'd say the very best were in their first three years of teaching.  

    I'm aware that's not a scientific study, but it makes me uncomfortable when I hear too much weight being given to seniority.  I don't know how you judge teachers, but in all my years of working in industry, I was never judged by a set of numbers.  I was judged by my boss; that was part of his job.  Don't really understand why education should be much different.

    Here's an idea: how about the people run the government and the corporations can line up for whatever we leave for them.

    by J Orygun on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:24:48 PM PDT

    •  My experience was completely the opposite (6+ / 0-)

      With but a single exception, the best teachers were the older ones.

      "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

      by nosleep4u on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:43:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That was not my experience. (5+ / 0-)

      In my experience a good teacher doesn't degrade with age. If anything they improve. My twins just had the English teacher that I had in Junior High 40 years ago last year when they were freshmen. She retired at the end that year.  She retired  great teacher, the same way she started.  They have a  chemistry teacher who was a first year teacher that I had for Physics in high school. He was an excellent teacher then an even better one now.

      My older teacher in junior High and high school we nearly all very good.

    •  In My Experience.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, brein

      As both a teacher and a student, the distribution is more or less random. Though the absolute GREATS have all been veterans, a lot of the "awfully goods" were the rookies.

      Being 14 years in, don't know which end I qualify in anymore...guess I am a tweener.

      :)

      "Every one is king when there's no one left to pawn" (BRMC)
      Contributing Editor, Daily Kos/Daily Kos Elections

      by Steve Singiser on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:41:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Guess I could believe that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        brein, Tonedevil

        I grew up in a small town in Idaho that paid teachers squat.  So the long-termers were usually captive somehow.  The ones I remember as being the best exposed me to lots of new ideas.  The older ones pretty much followed a traditional and boring plan.  I guess to me creating enthusiasm was a huge part of a good teacher, so that's what I remember from the young ones.  But like I said, it's just my experience, and may not mean anything.

        Here's an idea: how about the people run the government and the corporations can line up for whatever we leave for them.

        by J Orygun on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:05:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Don't agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fresburger, Mostel26

      I actually disagree with this, and that's been reinforced as I get older and look back on those years. The best teachers were the longtime veterans. They taught you the important lessons that stick with you over the long term. The young ones brought enthusiasm and energy, but didn't have the same level of wisdom.

  •  not surprised. didn't you know that public (8+ / 0-)

    education is a communist plot to indoctrinate those pesky youth with information that will stop them from supporting the lunatic fringe?

    keep'em stoopid.  fire good teachers who don't teach "to the test".  don't let them cause their students to actually THINK!  god forbid!

    where do you think all those uppity women get ideas about economic parity and knowledge about body parts (like uterus and vagina).

    got to keep those kids stoopid!  after all, wasn't there a belief once that no child should be better educated  than his/her parents?  (still trying to track that one down... if anyone else remembers the source)

    the reason that the wealthy always hated when the lower class received an education was that the lower class then questioned the lies told by the wealthy.  

    this doesn't surprise me at all - the attempt to make sure teachers have no life experience or success at challenging young people to actually think and apply reason!

    it's just more of the republican's war on society.  the only way the republicans are members of the "grand old party" is if they are both the hosts and guests behind locked gates!

  •  If you push the meme that teachers are (9+ / 0-)

    Inneffective then it is easier to push the move to cheaper more profitable private teachers

  •  Thank you for your service ... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, Tonedevil, Mostel26, Focusmarker, brein

    We don't say that to teachers near enough.  Vetrans of the military and teachers of our schools should be regularly honored for their service to the country.  

    Just another example of the right fighting the easiest thing and   never the correct thing.  

    They say there are strangers who threaten us, ... That those who know what's best for us | Must rise and save us from ourselves. "Witch Hunt" - Neil Ellwood Peart, Canadian lyricist with the band "RUSH".

    by Hualapai on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:47:06 PM PDT

  •  How about repealing tenure for Legislators? (5+ / 0-)

    You know, the longer they've served, the higher the vote percentage they need to be re elected. If that 'voter evaluation' isn't showing significant improvement term to term, it's obvious they should move on to another line of work.

    The New York State Legislature is notorious for losing more members to indictment and conviction than being voted out. (Thanks to Cuomo letting them have their gerrymander, that's not likely to change soon.)

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

    by xaxnar on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:47:09 PM PDT

  •  And When Do They Pass Laws... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil

    Saying that certain ethnic groups can't be civil servants? Just asking.

    This head movie makes my eyes rain.

    by The Lone Apple on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:49:49 PM PDT

  •  I have never understood (10+ / 0-)

    the push against veteran teachers. Tenured teachers are better equipped to handle situations in the classroom, know how to reach a wide variety of students, and bring about good stability to a school.

    I think these measures that take away job security for teachers will only serve to drive people away from teaching. Teaching is a hard profession (one I hope to join in a few years, but know how hard teachers work since both my parents were educators) and if attacks on education continue why would anyone put up with it? These attacks only serve to push people who might make great teachers away from the profession.

  •  I find the anti teacher and anti tenure here (12+ / 0-)

    depressing.

    When I lose my rights, you are next.

    You are eating up the GOP’s talking points.

    Shame on you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    •  The best rights there are... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      profmom, thestructureguy, brein

      The best sort of employment situation you can hope for in many jobs is one in which you are given regular evaluations and only lose your job after a process of evaluation and chances given to improve your performance that don't pan out. And that's really what teachers under these new models will be given. I don't understand why there's such a hostility to what is pretty much a staple of pursuing a profession.

      If you go up to any average person and ask them if it is normal to be evaluated regularly with performance assessments and lose your job after consistently poor performance, they would answer in the affirmative. It's really hard to "sell" the public on the idea that teachers are somehow exempt from this expectation.

    •  they've already lost their rights (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil

      that's why they can be coopted to take away ours.

  •  So, what about this for evaluation? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    profmom, Shane Hensinger, brein

    Student testing is always done towards the end of the school year as I understand it. Scores get compared across the board, so teachers are basically competing with each other.

    How about we flip that around a bit. Why not have some kind of standardized tests at the beginning of the school year to establish the baseline for each student coming in, and then test them again at the end of the school year?

    I'd think this would give a better measure of what a teacher was able to accomplish during the year, get a better handle on where things seemed to go well, and why. We're really trying to see if students are learning, right? If a teacher starts the school year knowing exactly which students need help and on what, would that be useful?

    Put it another way, if the year shows a student did about as well going out as coming in, does that mean the teacher did anything, or is that just a good student. The converse for a student who showed no gains at all.

    What would really be useful would be the cases where students showed real improvement during the year - then you can try to figure out just what made the difference.

    And... wouldn't it be interesting to see what happened to the students' skills over the summer?

    Now I'm pretty sure this is already being done, but maybe not to this level of resolution. I'd be curious to hear what's being done, and if I'm anywhere close to understanding it.

    BTW - let's make this more fun by coming up with tests that don't just measure rote information - tests to measure comprehension, reasoning, the ability to put things together, emotional maturity - things like that. We can always do drill and kill tests - these would actually be harder to just memorize stuff for.

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

    by xaxnar on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:04:23 PM PDT

    •  I think (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      profmom, xaxnar, brein

      a decent teacher evaluation is going to have to rely on more than just standardized tests. It can be a part of it, but there has to be more to it. Look at the quality of student work (not just tests, but assignments) get opinions from administration, fellow faculty, and community on how a teacher is doing.

    •  Why standardized tests work the way they do (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, brein, Tonedevil

      They do so because the cost of administering an individual test is very low.  Furthermore, the profit margin is very high.  That's the main driver.  As with any low-cost, high volume management process, it's easy to game the system if the incentives are there.

      Some amount of useful information trickles out of standardized tests despite all of this, and the originators of those tests in the 1920s thought that by doing them all the time it would tend to act as mental calisthenics.  But anything that would make testing useful would also tend to blow up the cost-profit model, as well as the ideology that incents the conservatives to support testing.

    •  It is not being done (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, xaxnar, brein, Tonedevil

      except by individual teachers or schools.

      The states are not testing the kids with pre-tests on the material to be taught during the year ahead.

      The "value-add" that is being done is comparing a child's percentile (essentially) from grade 4 to grade 5 and seeing if the teacher improved the percentile ranking of her students that year on totally new material. This is easy to measure, but mathematically it is garbage.

      Worse, even this is only available for teachers in a few grades, generally 3-6. After 6th grade, students don't have the same teacher all day for the full year. K and first grade students  - arguably the two most important grades - are not tested. There are no tests for art or PE. Not all states have subject matter tests for all subjects in all grades.

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

      by elfling on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:43:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is frustration looking for an outlet. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil

    American Public Schools are expensive, the most expensive in the world by a large margin. For many years, the average test results (and their somewhat related academic skills) have been decreasing, both absolutely and relative to those of other countries. We all know that the reasons for this are largely outside the time a student spends in school, but it is still agonizing. So, the teachers get the blame. There is no way out of this situation, the tax payers do  not want to hear an explanation, they want blood. They claim they want results, but what they really want is to lash out at the schools and teachers are bearing the brunt of it.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:08:41 PM PDT

    •  Show me the numbers that Ameriacan schools (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, helfenburg

      are expensive.

    •  wrong and easily debunked (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vacantlook, Mostel26, brein

      we do not spend th most on public schools. The oft-quoted figures include expenditures in ALL areas of education, including higher ed research and such. See Gerald Bracey and others.

    •  There are no good cost comparison numbers (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vacantlook, Mostel26, brein

      I know you've seen numbers, but those are not accurately comparable.

      For example, a large percentage of the education budget goes to purchase health insurance for educators. American health care costs are nearly double most other countries'; further, in countries where health care is provided by the government, it may not be accounted to schools at all. Sports are accounted to schools in the US; in some other countries, local sports are run by cities.

      This guy says it better:

      http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/...

      Government or public education expenditures in different countries contain different components. A number of my colleagues and I are in the process of better understanding and delineating the components included in public education expenditures across nations. For example, in a country with a national health care system, public education expenditures may not include health care expenses for all employees. That’s not a trivial expense. The same may be true of pension contributions and obligations, where they exist, in other countries. The same is also true for arts and athletic programs in countries where it is more common for those activities to be embedded in community services. But, we’ve yet to fully identify the extent of these differences across nations or how these differences affect the spending comparisons. What we do know is that they do affect the spending comparisons – and likely quite significantly.

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

      by elfling on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:47:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Provide a citation to a reliable source for the (0+ / 0-)

      assertion that APSs are expensive.  And remember, there are 13,500 school districts in the US and they spend vastly different sums of money, so any discussion that talks about "education" as if it were a single entity is missing the boat entirely on that point alone.  And then give us a source for the assertion that average test resutls have been descreasing.

  •  I think a basic point is missed here. (10+ / 0-)

    The goal of the conservatives, Republicans and Tea Party terrorists is NOT to save public education, but rather to remove it entirely from the American Landscape. This is a very simple, and readily publicly admitted point from any of these perspectives.

    States (like my own Tennessee) are already lining up ALEC-sponsored model bills for presentation in the next GA session to do precisely this, and legislate the requirement for charter schools and vouchers exclusively.

    "I'll eliminate the Department of Education" is NOT about Arne Duncan, or Ms. Rhee. To think otherwise is a total distraction from the primary goal.

    As a veteran educator, I both agree with and appreciate your diary. T/R'd. :) Good work.

    I am an American citizen. I am a writer. You have been warned.
    Economic Left/Right: -7.75
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.51

    by Bud Fields on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:13:39 PM PDT

    •  It is DEMOCRATS pushing this in NJ (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      helfenburg

      You know, those paragons of virtue who keep winding up in jail...Ruiz is doing this for political gain, Adubato and Norcross tell her what to do, Christie is just their patsy to sign off on it. The DEMOCRATS could stop this cold, as they did when Whitman was governor, but they want it too. And if you think they give a flying shit about poor kids in Camden, then you have been smokin a lot of wacky tobaccy

      •  I am not trolling, or baiting you, but (0+ / 0-)

        IF Democrats are the "they" in your comment, then who for you is "us"? I'd just like to understand the context of your comment.

        And, what are YOU doing about it?

        For the record, I know many, and have worked with many more poor kids in Camden, so your issue is somewhat personal for me, as well. What's your plan? What can I (or we) do to help?

        "These assholes always get away.".
        ~George Zimmerman~ Economic
        Left/Right: -7.75
        Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.51

        by Bud Fields on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 03:21:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The "reform" that both the "GOP" and some ... (5+ / 0-)

    who call themselves "progressive Democrats" is inane and counter productive, tenure is not the problem, teachers who are incompetent, abusive, performing illegal acts or incapable of imparting the curriculum, can be fired, whether tenured or not. The problem is funding and competent administration, not teaching.

    Michelle Rhee and the other "reformers", including the whining Arne Duncan are trying to sell privatization and fear, not better pedagogy. Oddly enough, well funded schools in upscale districts are not targeted by the faddism of "reform", only those districts with no political clout are thrown to the privatizing wolves.

    The methodology of reform reminds me of the New Math fad, in which we were going to teach mathematics earlier and get better results through new techniques, which became an abysmal failure and produced no discernible improvement in math ability or competency.

    This "reform" movement is about trying to do more with less and creating metrics for what is clearly something not in the complete control of a teacher, the ability of a student to learn. Home life, emotional stability, involved parental support, safety from harm, clean and well tended facilities, books, computers and a well administered school are far more important indicia for student success than tenure and testing, and study after study confirms this set of facts.

    Measurements of performance are only fair when the person being measured has significant control of the work product, materials, resources and understands the criteria of successful performance. People are not widgets and to lay the total blame for nonperformance at the feet of teachers when, at best, they have little control of most of the factors involved in student performance beyond providing information and guidance is ridiculous. Students and their parents, the community and administration have the majority of control of students, not teachers.

    Teachers are being used as scapegoats for a general lack of support for the real needs of children caused by social and economic pressures that teachers have no control over. If legislatures want to help, how about funding schools in such a way that students get the primary benefit of the funding, not private contractors, testing system fad peddlars and administrators. I am sick to death of this argument, it is on its face a false and pernicious game of pin the tail on the donkey, not "reform."  

    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

    by KJG52 on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:35:24 PM PDT

  •  wrong tenor of post (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    profmom, Balto

    The tenor of this post is all wrong.  The most important point is that we need effective teachers.  Teachers, like any other profession, should be subject to ongoing review through a fair, transparent process.  Just because a teacher has been at the job a while does not make them a good teacher.  Just because someone is less experienced does not make them a bad teacher.  Performance review done appropriately keep the best teachers while getting rid of the bad ones.  
    The author of the diary keeps questioning the motives of people associated with charter schools, teach for america, and others like Michele Rhee.  These people have spent a lot of time trying to improve the education system.  You may not agree with their conclusions but you should quit questioning their motives.  If one questioned the author's motives, one could say he wants teachers to have job security above all else regardless of how good a teacher they are.

    •  Er, you do know that the results of 'these people' (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, Focusmarker, wsexson, Tonedevil

      are, at the most optimistic, less than par?

      And if 'these people' are making such a determined effort to improve the system, one might reasonably expect, say, properly researched methods? Which is not actually the case?

      At what point does one decide that just maybe their stated goals are not their actual goals?

      For me, that point was reached sometime around the time when Rhee's districts test results were shown to have significant falsification, and yet she suffered no decline in authority. Not the only reason, but a preponderance of evidence had been reached by then, by my view.

  •  the answer is simple: (7+ / 0-)

    just mandate that 100% of the students will be proficient by some certain date and enforce it. What's proficient? Eh, whatever the state wants it to be, how's that, doesn't matter. Then teachers will finally get off their lazy butts and get to work. Or else.  How about 2014? What could possibly go wrong?

    The utter stupidity of politicians, administrators, and the commentariat that for a decade sold and bought that ridiculous line of crap, laughable on its face, is all the evidence I need that putting amateurs and the inexperienced (let alone politicians) in charge of teaching, of evaluation standards, of employment policymaking is a recipe for disaster, and a reign of incompetence, fraud, and failure the likes of which would make the recent past seem like a golden age of teaching and learning.

    Better teaching? Better learning? Of course! But you can spare me the incompetence, the stupidity, the posturing, the outright fraud. Arne Duncan! Michelle Rhee! Charter schools! AYP! Value addled testing! What a country!

    Bold at inappropriate times.

    by steep rain on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:57:20 PM PDT

    •  Can you name (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling

      any segment of society that is 100% successful at something?  A state with no unemployment?  crime?  disease?  Please tell me if you are successful at 100% of everything you do--never a mistake?  Do you realize that charter schools do not have a better achievement record than public schools?

      If you can guarantee 100% mastery in education, then you should go show us how to do it in a school where students come from low-income homes and are at-risk.  We would love to learn from your ability to do what no one has been able to do before--make all students successful.  We will be sure to put the ones on drugs and with emotional problems in your class along with those who have excessive absences.  They need a miracle worker like you seem to be.    

      What if doctors were evaluated by how many of their patients were obese or how many died?  Would that be fair if the doctor gave the right tests, treatments, and advice but the patients chose to ignore it?  

      It is the same with standardized testing.  Some students want to do well and make high scores.  Others want to sleep through the test.  It is not unusual to have to keep waking up a student; the state test is not timed and they have all day.  Some of them come in late and then want to sleep, and others just bubble in answers without reading the questions.  Should the teacher be blamed for that?  

      Also, more and more special education students are being required to take levels of tests that are above their abilities.  They have traditionally been exempt from the tests or allowed to take modified versions; in recent years those allowances for their learning disabilities have been decreasing.  

      The students that come from homes with educated, responsible parents will know that they need to do well and usually will.  That is not the case for all students and those with many at-risk factors need teachers that want to work with them without fear of being fired for lower test scores.  

      I have taught in both kinds of schools, and can sincerely say that it is HARDER to get those mediocre scores from students coming from poverty than it was to get the great scores from students who are highly motivated and have had  every advantage from birth.  It takes more flexibility, perseverance, and time spent with individual tutoring after school to get those scores that are not as great as the student whose parents are educated, value education, and have the ability to guide their children accordingly.  Some parents do care but don't understand how to support the academic part of a child's life.    

    •  My reply (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      helfenburg, Tonedevil

      was to people who do think that it is reasonable to demand 100% from teachers, no matter which students they are given.

      I was guilty of reading the first sentence and getting so angry that I didn't read the rest of your post until I vented.  Sorry!  I am just sick of the "teachers are the enemy" attitude that so many are swallowing today.  

      Maybe we should do the same with politicians.  If veteran teachers are too old and set in their ways, so are veteran politicians.  Let's get rid of them also.  

      •  a little too heavy (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        emptythreatsfarm, Tonedevil

        with the snark, sorry to get you aggravated. But that first sentence is the casual way that people treat these crazy mandates forced upon teachers.  The entire teaching "crisis" is largely trumped up in the first place, and to the extent that it isn't, it is a reflection more of the poverty of means and culture that exists in the country than the efforts of teachers.

        Re doctors and hospitals - they have resisted ratings for a long time, and to the extent that they are being applied, you see risky patients being declined for surgeries - something a teacher is not able to do with at-risk students. But you do see school administrators playing games with at-risk students, trying to hide them from the AYP calculations any which way they can.

        When Charlie Rose sits down with Michelle Rhee or Wendy Kopp and they give him the story of the dedicated teachers who grade a hundred papers nightly, take their classes out to McDonald's, and call the parents of students having trouble (or visit their homes and pound on the door), and Charlie Rose slaps the table and exclaims "Why can't we have more teachers like that!" I want to throw a shoe through the TV. "Because they'll burn out in two years, you idiot". Because they want to have a life of their own, you idiot. Because they're already doing a lot of that and all they get is abuse in return - better just to teach to the test! You idiot!"

        Bold at inappropriate times.

        by steep rain on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 09:36:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Longevity means a person has been doing (0+ / 0-)

    something a long time.  Doesn't reflect how well they've done it.  Not unless longevity reflects how well they do something does it mean much more than they've been there a long time. That being said I think the most valuable clog in the educational system is the veteran teacher. The difficult goal is having all good veteran teachers.  

    Rick Perry is George Bush without brains.

    by thestructureguy on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:09:45 PM PDT

  •  "Veterans" of many kinds are being dissed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil

    quite a lot these days. It was actually stated policy of the national lab I worked at to get the average age down to about 35. At least they went about it halfway decently- it was one reason they contributed 9% of your salary to your 403b, not a match but an outright gift. It was hoped that at some point people would "self-eliminate" into retirement. Worked for me, anyway.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:38:27 PM PDT

    •  There (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      billmosby, Tonedevil

      is a feeling that anyone who is older is not as good and needs to be removed, but also the push to "privatize" health care for the elderly and reduce Social Security.  Where are these oldies supposed to go and how are they supposed to eat?  The irony is that many of the politicians who are pushing for this are older themselves, but have accumulated enough money through their offices that they can support themselves.  

      Who remembers Logan's Run?  

      •  I sure do remember Logan's Run. That in itself (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26, Tonedevil

        makes me a geezer, lol. To answer the question of how us oldies are supposed to eat, I have been learning how to starve relatively painlessly. Everybody thinks I have just been losing an unneeded 20 or 25 lbs. Which is true enough, but I have also found that if you get used to feeling hungry for a couple of weeks, you can lose almost half a pound a day in relative comfort. I figure out when I need to eat a little something by how dizzy I get when standing up.

        I'm not really joking too much about this. Maybe a little. But still it is a comfort to know that a little starvation is not all that uncomfortable. Hopefully when the time comes I'll find I can get all the way down to death without much bother to me or anybody else.

        Well, I mean we do live in a republic. The taxpayers have a perfect right to decide if they want to support people in their declining years. Just because my generation decided to do so doesn't mean the next ones owe us anything.

        I know a lot of that is snark, but even I'm not sure which parts are and which are not.

        Moderation in most things.

        by billmosby on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 10:26:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  We need to separate layoffs from performance (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brein, Tonedevil

    Rhee complains about "Last In First Out" seniority with respect to layoffs. It's the wrong question.

    Any time we are doing layoffs at all, it's going to suck. Effective teachers are going to be removed, if everyone has been doing their job. That we are doing layoffs when there is no decrease in needed services is the problem.

    Teachers who are not effective need to be removed. This is true regardless of whether the district is hiring or doing layoffs.

    Teachers are not the only ones subject to these rules. Police and fire use them. Many companies use them.

    Districts also have the power, when doing layoffs, to cut services before they cut people, and then cut by seniority within those positions. That is, if they cut librarians, the librarians go even if they are senior to some kindergarten teachers.

    In a large district, the number of positions being cut these days is often far larger than any one person could personally know. That is, if the district is laying off 100 teachers, it's unlikely that there is anyone in the district who can come up with a ranking that would choose "the 100 least effective teachers." Maybe they could come up with a list of 10 they'd like fired first, but you'd still have to figure out the other 90 somehow. Seniority is as good as any, as much as it sucks.

    This is a good discussion (from a researcher in NJ) about trying to select teachers for layoffs:

    http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/...

    Reformers are increasingly calling for quality based layoffs versus seniority based layoffs, as if a simple dichotomy. Sounds like a no brainer when framed in these distorted terms.

    I pointed out in the previous post that if the proposal on the table is really about using value-added teacher effect estimates versus years of service, we’re really talking about the choice between significantly biased and error prone – largely random – layoffs versus using years of service. It doesn’t sound as much like a no brainer when put in those terms, does it? While reformers might argue that seniority based layoffs are still more “error prone” than effectiveness rating layoffs, it is actually quite difficult to determine which, in this case, is more error prone. Existing simulation studies identifying value-added estimates as the less bad option, use value-added estimates to determine which option is better. Circular logic (as I previously wrote)?

    That aside, reduction in force isn’t about choosing which teachers to be dismissed so that you can replace them with better ones. It’s about budgetary crisis mode and reduction of total staffing costs. And reduction in force is not implemented in a synthetic scenario where the choice only exists to lay off either core classroom teachers based on seniority, or core classroom teachers based on effectiveness ratings (the constructed reality of the layoff simulations). Reduction in force is implemented with consideration for the full array of teaching positions that exist in any school or district. “Last in, first out” or LIFO as reformy types call it, does not mean ranking all teachers systemwide by experience and RIF-ing the newest teachers regardless of what they teach, or the program they are in. Specific programs and positions can be cut, and typically are.

    And it is unlikely that local district administrators in high need districts would, or even should, look first to cut deeply into core content area teachers. So, a 5% staffing cut might be accomplished before ever cutting a single teacher for whom an effectiveness rating occurs – or very few. So, in the context of RIF, layoffs actually based on effectiveness ratings are a drop in the bucket.

    also:

    http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/...

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

    by elfling on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 10:01:18 PM PDT

  •  A little bit off topic, but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Focusmarker

    My 2 cents on this.  A major problem I see with the profession is the state certification process.  The "alternate" certification programs are a complete joke.  I am completely a MA degree with teaching experience at the college level currently and want to go teach in high school.  In order to get admitted to these "alternate" certification programs, designed supposedly to get more specialized individuals in the classroom, I would have to take several introductory courses that I have literally TAUGHT at the college level.

    Now this wouldn't be a problem if alternate programs like this were on the federal level, but teacher certification occurs at the state level.  For teaching a subject like social studies this leads to some frankly absurd requirements, like having to take an intro course in state history despite the 20+ graduate school credits you have taken in American history.

    If you want the teaching profession to improve, please open the floodgates for the thousands of MA and PHD grades in specialized subjects to come teach in high school.  Allow an easier and more efficient certification process that actually makes logical sense, instead of forcing already indebted students to take on more debt to take classes they have already TAUGHT!

    Experience is good, but let in those with higher levels of education get that experience instead of being frozen out of the job market due to inefficiencies in the certification process.

    •  *completing a MA degree sorry for the typo.. (0+ / 0-)

      it's quite late here.

    •  High School? Try non-consenting K-8 students.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brein

      How does a teacher optimize learning for non consenting learners in a public school setting?

      In higher ed, learners have consented to attend your class. With regard to K-12...learners are compelled to attend school, and many do not care to be in your class....if they aren't buying your instructional schtick...what do you do then?

      Are you a traditional didactic teacher...that is the way most higher ed folks are accustomed to instruction.......teaching K-8 is a whole different world....

      If only students were static entities, teaching could be as simple as inputs/outputs....

      www.dumpduncan.org

      Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

      by semioticjim on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 04:41:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Intro classes in college are pretty close.. (0+ / 0-)

        to non-consenting.  Trust me, I had plenty of people who had to take Intro American history to graduate with their business or sociology degree.  Many did not have a basic high school knowledge of history as well.  I saw on a mid-term that Christopher Columbus, "an Englishman", "discovered" America when he landed at Plymouth!

        And yes, I am well-aware that teaching secondary school is a different profession all together.  I would listen attentively to experienced teachers for advice and grow as an educator.  

        That said, I am also tired of hearing stories of coaches teaching history (because it's only history right?! Anyone can teach it!) and telling students that Germany fought on the side Great Britain in World War 1!  I've seen students at a public university after they have gone through high school, and their knowledge of history is shockingly poor.  We not only need teachers that can teach but also need teachers that know their subject matter.

        •  Also - (0+ / 0-)

          Though I taught fairly didactically in the classroom, though emphasizing discussion over lecture, I agree a completely different style is needed in the classroom.  A more interactive environment is necessary to engage middle and high schoolers in history.

          My current project is the adoption of a Japanese card game (Karuta) as a mechanism for memorization.  I think it would work really well in the classroom and be a fun thing for kids to look forward to for a week or two during the school year.  

          Don't know why I'm posting that here, but I think it's a fun idea, and I would love to see some teachers pick it up.  Look it up if you like.  

          •  All of your comments are extremely (0+ / 0-)

            important to the discussion of education reform, I think. Whether high school students are graduating with enough knowledge about history and whether memorization is or is not s good thing are both big topics.

    •  Yes, Yes!! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brein, Taara535

      A thousand times Yes!!

      While an MA or PhD is no guarantee of success at teaching the K-12 crowd, I agree wholeheartedly in making the Alt/Cert route adhere to common sense (having found my situation nearly identical to yours).

      It might also begin to attract the extremely large number of PhDs who find themselves unable to land tenure-track positions.

      That said, semioticjim's concerns are also valid and should be factored in.

  •  If only teaching were inputs and outputs.... (0+ / 0-)

    The unelected corporate education reformers have succeeded in convincing the uncritical thinking American Public that learning and instruction can be reduced to filling up a blank slate....

    Excellent Diary!

    www.dumpduncan.org

    Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

    by semioticjim on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 02:24:40 AM PDT

  •  a RW radio priority for YEARS - demean/attack teac (3+ / 0-)

    chers.

    endorsed by the 76 universities (and more) in the link below.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 05:13:44 AM PDT

  •  Duncan and Obama -Privatization of Public Schools (4+ / 0-)

    Obama and Duncan support the same destructive laws as the worse republican governers. There is no light between the policies of Duncan's Race to the Top and Christie, Walker, Scott, Jeb Bush, Rhee, Jindle, and Cuomo's  public edu-destruction policies.

    Duncan and Obama gave TN the RttT bribe to enact the same legislation Christie is forcing thru the NJ legislature. Rahm is doing the same thing in Chicago to their school system with the help of billionaire lobbyists masquerading as "charities", backed by hedgefund managers.

    Obama's Dep of Ed's Race to the Top mandates (none of which are proven effective according to Institute of Education Science) gave Wall Street the perfect opening for Murdoch and his ilk to form corrupt public/private partnerships in poor, inner city communities. Money laundering charter schools, private school management companies and mayoral takeovers impose a corporate model that generates profits off the backs of poor, powerless children and communities.

     Race to the Top MANDATES enacting flawed screening evaluations, evaluating teachers by VAM, eliminating tenure, closing schools, firing experienced educators, and seeking alternatives to elected school boards (Memphis City Schools is now being managed by Achievement - a privately funded education management organization.

    I posted this at Schools Matter and repost here about the screening tool TN enacted to fire teachers:

    The state of TN paid millions of dollars to the Milken Foundation's NIET (The same Milkens who were convicted of securities fraud and served time in federal prison) to adopt the TEAM teacher evaluation system without evaluating it's efficacy in identifying teacher quality. None of Milken's white papers claiming success have been subjected to external scientific peer review.
    The Milkens produced white papers with manipulated data as "research" whose target audience is public relations firms pretending to be news organizations.

    The scores of TEAM evaluated teachers follow a Bell-shape distribution (according to their research), only 15% of teachers will achieve scores above (4) or significantly above (5) expectations. It is nearly impossible for 85% of teachers to average scores of 4 to achieve tenure. Our trainer repeatedly told us that "at expectations" must be scored a (3). We were trained never to score higher than a (3) on all but 1 -2 indicators. That is, no one will average (4s) or (5s), out of 12 indicators.

    Reflective, thoughtful growth is punished. In post conference, if a teacher provides evidence that was not observed we are not permitted to change their score. Only a fraudulent assessment model does not allow feedback to inform and improve practice.

    Paid by taxpayers, the for-profit TEAM system is designed to churn experience out of the education profession, open the market for unqualified Teach for America short 'termers' and a cheap labor force trained by for profit companies.

    
Other states have begun importing teachers from the Phillipines to fill vacant teaching positions
    .
    Citizens should be informed about who is profiting from this system- it's not children or schools. Which state legislators and are bought and paid for employees of the Milken Foundation or other for-profit edu-comapnies? Who profits from the privatization schemes masked as "reform"?

  •  post for class ref. (0+ / 0-)
  •  There's a reason (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26

    Teachers are retiring in record numbers.  There is a reason that 1/3 of teachers change professions after a few years.  There is a reason why teachers support Democrats....

  •  I Taught English (NOT "Language Arts") for 5 Years (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Taara535, Tonedevil

    Those dreaded veteran teachers were my lifeline, and I learned so much from them that I still use in business leadership. They weren't "extra baggage," but instead were extraordinary!

    I got out of teaching in the late 80s, when I saw the war on public education beginning. The last straw was in 1988, when a yuppie born-again zealot kook Reaganot mother went through an entire review of her immature spawn's lackluster performance, telling me what I should be doing to motivate her son, and spouting mostly made up studies she'd read in Reader's Digest or Woman's Day or some other infantile children's circular.

    I finally asked her where she had studied pedagogy, classroom management, evaluative methods, or "motivation," and she replied that as the child's mother, she "knew what was best for her child."

    "Well," I said. "That would indicate that when your child breaks his leg, needs a cavity filled, instruction in music, coaching in lacrosse, or a thousand other things, no expert is needed, but instead 'you know best'?"

    "That's ridiculous," she said.

    "No, ma'am, that's reductio ad absurdum."

    She stormed out, my principal smiled at me, and I went back to class, but it was easy to see the unintelligible, still-born writing on the wall, and since I was already working hard at my landscaping business (no teacher I know doesn't have a second job), I made that Spring my last, built my little landscaping company into a design/build/maintenance firm, and sold it four years later for a nice profit. I've been a serial entrepreneur ever since.

    My wife stayed with teaching as a Biology teacher, but had to leave public school as the creationist nonsense filtered into the curriculum, and now teaches at a Catholic school, where, astonishingly, the curriculum contains no oxymora such as "intelligent design"!

    Meanwhile, our global competition (Korea, Denmark, Australia, Japan) reveres teachers, pays them well, has a 200+ day, 8 hour/day school year, and puts learning [gasp] ahead of athletics.

    The latest entry in the "countries with national education policies are infinitely better than the US local control crap"?

    Finland.

    It's past time to remedy this, but I doubt we will anytime soon. In the meantime, there are a lot of dedicated teachers who could really use our thanks and agitation on their behalf.

    Think we could muster that, 'Merca, perhaps in the name of a teacher who gave us so much inspiration and knowledge, like Steve Singiser, or is that too much?

    “In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.” ~ H. L. Mencken

    by skeezixwolfnagle on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 01:14:17 PM PDT

    •  Excellent comment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil

      I completely agree.  It is about time that we took states out of our education system.  Though, unfortunately, I do agree that centralization will never happen in the United States...  Thanks for the story though; I think it really gets at the worst problems with our current education system.

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