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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rotten reporting: Time magazine joins the blame the teacher crowd.

Time  Magazine with their Bad Apple Cover, saying it's hard to fire bad teachers stopped being a news magazine and instead joined the blamed the teacher crowd. The article about silicon billionaires fighting against tenure missed the point entirely, because their cause is not about improving education by getting rid of tenure but instead it is about destroying labor and profiting off of education in the process.

This is the cover of the upcoming issue of Time magazine, slated for print publication November 3rd. (Time Magazine)

Please don’t think for a moment that the Vergera court case in California was about doing what is best for teachers. No, it was all about destroying labor as are most of the education reforms being implemented.
The plaintiffs backed by a silicon valley billionaire claimed that teacher work protections, including tenure, were detrimental and unfair to poor and mostly minority students. How the judge came to agree is an assault to the senses.

If first year or relatively new teachers are cut before more experienced teachers that is not only tragic but it is not the fault of teacher unions either. Unions do not set budgets nor do they let teachers go. Yet instead of blaming politicians who seem to always cut education first, they somehow blamed work protections for more experienced teachers and this judge either bought it or was bought.  
Education reformers would have you believe you can separate the relationship between teacher and student but the truth is you can’t. They are symbiotic, they depend on each other to exist. Policies like ignoring discipline and cutting budgets hurt both children and teachers alike as does destroying work protections for teachers. This hurts teachers for the obvious reasons but it also hurts students too because as the teaching profession becomes more and more unappealing fewer qualified people will enter and stay. Who will teach our kids when they make the profession so unappealing that professionals won't want to do it? 

We are all saddened when talented new teachers are cut but the truth is it often takes years for teachers to grow into being effective. Now are there some rookie teachers that hit the road running and some veteran teachers that have stayed to long? Of course but the truth is the numbers for each group are small.  Furthermore if there is a veteran teacher not doing their job then that isn’t the fault of unions or work protections either. That’s the fault of an administration that is not doing its job.
Does it take time and documentation and sometimes even money to get rid of an ineffective teacher? Again sure but that’s the way it is in any profession and I remind you that the procedures are mutually agreed upon between unions and administrations. Unions do not dictate to localities.

Ed Reformers will complain “but unions use their membership to drive those procedures” as if that is a bad thing. Shouldn’t we all want our teachers to have good pay and benefits and have procedures in place to make sure they are treated fairly? Is that to much to ask of society?
The Vegera case would have you believe so but how will kneecapping the teaching profession help kids? The answer is it won't but that was never the reason behind it in the first place instead it’s about destroying the power of labor. These billionaires want to be able to make decisions, many of which they will profit off unencumbered by groups banded together to look out for their interests even when those interests are entirely intertwined with the interests of children.  

In Florida there has been a similar court case making its way through the courts. The plaintiffs not backed by a billionaire took a different direction however. Instead of blaming teachers and unions they believe its inadequate resources that are holding our schools and children back.  If we're saddened by young teachers being cut then lets not cut budgets. If we think teachers have to many work protections, negotiate but be prepared to pay more to have them give up those rights. instead of doing what is right they would have you believe Mrs. Migilicutty at the top of the pay scale at PS this or that is to blame for all the woes in education

I would like to point out that unions do not create curriculum, establish budgets, set policy nor do they hire or fire teachers. All they do and all they can do is make sure the mutually agreed upon contract language is enforced and through their membership lobby for things they feel are important. In my home state of Florida sometimes they win like with the parent trigger but more often they lose like with senate bill 736 that ties pay to how students do on standardized tests, something testing experts say is ridiculous.
The ed reformers are always talking about the needs for children. If only this were about the needs of children, it’s not and people shouldn’t think for a second it is.

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  1. DTU does not make sure the contract is enforced. They collect dues and give money to people trying to destroy public education.

  2. DTU has also consistently said "we don't do discipline", even though its part of the contract and one of the worst issues teachers deal with.

    1. I would say "DISCIPLINE is the ISSUE". From it every good thing flows.

  3. Beyond that, it's not like people are clamoring to become teachers. It took our school over a month to find someone to fill a core teacher position. At other schools, I have heard of multiple vacancies. Why would new teachers want to stay when the conditions are life-sucking at times, when the stress is overwhelming, when people constantly demean teachers, etc? It's not like we are getting paid the big money. To get to 40,000, you have to have 9 years of experience. To get to 50,000, you have to reach 20 years of experience. No one in my department has that many years of teaching experience. In fact, no one is over 10 years.

  4. The pay definintely doesn't match the stress.