(Jim Blockey) – It seems the new fad created by “No Child Left Behind” is “All Teachers Left Under the Bus.” Blaming bad teachers for our failing schools is PC, especially for Conservatives. This gives the impression that there are an over abundance of bad teachers out there.
The communications director for National Policy Research Institute says, “Teacher quality is the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement, ending teacher tenure is a no-brainer for anyone looking to improve student achievement in Nevada.”
I agree this is a no-brainer, because you cannot have a brain if you honestly think that putting more stress on teachers, making them worry about being able to continue feeding their families, will make them better teachers. To say teacher quality is the most important factor in student achievement is attune to judging the quality of a personal trainer by how much weight ALL of their clients lose especially if most of those clients are forced to be there.
No matter how great the personal trainer is, if their client does not want to be there, is happy with their weight or just plain does not care, that client will not lose weight. If you add in that the personal trainer has to stop their training three or four times a session to deal with discipline problems; that will affect the outcome for the entire class. Then if the trainer has to be concerned with the drop-out rate and has to call and convince those absentees that they need to be in class; that cuts into training time and will also have a negative effect on the entire class.
It is not the trainer’s fault that clients do not lose weight, it is the circumstances; just as it is not teachers fault, it is the circumstances they are forced to teach under that is ruining education. There is way too much significance given to teachers on student achievement; that power rests within each student themselves and their parents.
Governor-elect Brian Sandoval and Assembly Speaker-to-be John Oceguera both came out in favor of eliminating teacher tenure. Why? I believe because they do not listen to actual in-classroom teachers. Sandoval says that the current evaluation system is out of date; we have an opportunity to modernize the entire system in ways that reward the best, inspire the average to improve, and dismiss those who are failing.
Ok, I have asked this question hundreds of times and have not gotten a reasonable answer yet… Please, can you define what a bad teacher is? Under the future governor’s plan, a majority of teacher and principal evaluations will be based on student achievement. I ask this question, “How would you like to go to school for at least 4 years, spending tens of thousands of dollars to get YOUR education and then have a 7 year old decide your future? They get to decide what your pay is and whether or not you even get to keep your job.” So Mr. Oceguera and Mr. Sandoval, you believe this is your best recruiting proposal? I definitely see why there is a continued teacher shortage.
Mr. Oceguera said, “School districts need to weed out ineffective teachers.” He called for a “fair but expedient process for getting inadequate teachers out of the classroom.” Again, I ask you to define an ineffective teacher?
He also complained that the Clark County School District only fired .12% of the teachers each year for poor performance. I think that is pretty repulsive for someone to want to terminate more employees just because they believe there are bad teachers getting a paycheck. But what he fails to mention or realize is that half of the teachers quit before they complete their 5th year, because of the terrible working conditions; another great recruiting tool for the school district.
Mr. Sandoval also mentioned having a private school mentality, which I agree with; but, his belief was that it was much easier for private school to terminate teachers. The truth is that teacher turnover in private schools is much less than in public schools; what private schools have over public schools is the working conditions are so much better for teachers. Administration deals with discipline problems; teachers don’t have to worry so much about classroom management they just get to be concerned with teaching. So I agree with having the private school mentality, but not with getting rid of teachers, but with getting rid of bad working conditions.
What our leaders, administrators and parents fail to realize is that every time they talk about bad or inadequate teachers and our children hear it; you are giving them an excuse to fail and/or be disruptive. When YOU blame teachers for the downfall of America’s education system, you can rest assured that THEY will follow.
If you truly want to fix education in America and lower the budget; ask a teacher… like me.
(Jim Blockey is a 20 year Teacher and Author of “Teachers… It Ain’t Your Fault”)