August 19, 2012
LOWER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: New York Times: Teachers On The Defensive.
Nothing — nothing — is more important than the education of our children, and while various interests will make competing claims about whether it’s improving or slipping and how best to measure that, education certainly isn’t at the level we want or need it to be. Public education, that is.
All around me I see parents of means going the private route and dipping as far into their bank accounts as necessary to purchase every last advantage a kid can have. . . .
Perhaps most striking are the rifts that have opened between teachers’ unions and Democrats, who had long been their allies. President Obama’s appointment of Arne Duncan as education secretary and the administration’s subsequent Race to the Top initiative weren’t exactly music to the unions’ ears.
In Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and other cities, Democratic mayors have feuded bitterly with teachers’ unions and at times come to see them as enemies. And at a meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors in June, Democratic mayors joined Republican ones in a unanimous endorsement of so-called parent trigger legislation, about which unions have serious reservations. These laws, recently passed in only a few states but being considered in more, abet parent takeovers of underperforming schools, which may then be replaced with charter schools run by private entities.
Read the whole thing. And note this comment from a formerly unionized teacher.
I spent eight years as a public middle school teacher in a Title I school. It never seemed like the union was doing the kids any favors. I loved my students, but I was surrounded by incompetence and mismanagement. Most of my colleagues were angry, bitter women who didn’t like children. They should not have been teachers, but they could not be fired. At any given time, we had three to four teachers out on administrative leave, which means that they did something worthy of being fired but were protected by the union. For all but a handful of fellow dedicated professionals, I prayed that at least these disinterested adults weren’t doing the kids any harm.
It all finally ground me down, and I left two years ago to teach at a private school. I now work with colleagues who are uniformly stimulating, motivated, creative, and hard-working people. Did I mention that we work HARD? At my unionized public school, the most common thing I heard in the teachers’ lounge was complaining. Now I can’t get away from teachers running lesson plan ideas past me and inviting me to work on interdisciplinary projects with them. I make about $5000 more at this school, and still probably don’t make enough money for the amount of work I do, but I love my job and can’t imagine doing anything else. At my private school, teachers can be fired for incompetence, and we actually have performance reviews and receive helpful feedback from administration.