Archive | Competition RSS feed for this section

Teachers Competing?

26 Jan

Last evening the president spoke, again, about schools, families, teachers, and education.  He mentioned rewarding the best teachers and cutting loose those who are not getting the job done.  How does one reward the “best” teachers in a system that measures a teacher’s students by outcomes, test scores, and numbers?  I will tell you right now, if money is tied to “outcomes,” and teachers compete, it will get nasty in a hurry.

Consider the following.  K-12 education is socialism-in-action.  The government (federal and state) tells teachers what the requirements are.  Teachers unions and boards negotiate contracts, all with fixed incomes annually, and regardless how little, or how much effort expended, the same dollar amount in allocated monthly to each educator.  Teachers are blur-collar workers, paid as such, and expected to “believe” we are professionals.  No professional I know does recess duty, bus duty, has to wait until a bell rings to urinate, and has a 30-minute lunch, all spent with students who make up work.  I could go on.  We are simply not professionals.  We are social workers with credentials to teach, when there is time.

So listen up.  If teachers are to be rewarded, then how?  Do I get to select my students, so as to compete as a coach would be able to compete?  The coach in me loves this.  May I field the best classes to ensure my “success?”  Can I cut students who do not have what it takes to make it?  Let a first-year teacher have those kids.  If so, then I have a chance to compete.  But what is “best,” and who measures it?

Since the president mentioned training 100,000 new teachers in math, science, and technology–are teachers in those the areas the ones which will be rewarded?  How will that happen if ALL teachers do not have the same grade levels of students, similarly able  students, as well as students who do not speak English as a first language?  Do we want 55-year-olds competing with 25-year-olds?  What kind of profession does that with money as the prize?

Also, what about English teachers, the fine arts, music, literature, and social studies teachers?  How will those of who work in those content areas compete with math and science, in order to show we are “better,” or “best?”  I’ve taught algebra before and it is a piece-of-cake compared to instruction on the philosophy of “common good,” and its importance in American culture.  How we will measure level of difficulty of content taught and reward teachers accordingly?

Merit pay will never work.  Where’s the merit and who decides what is and is not meritorius?  Will teachers take tests to prove their own merit?  Let me at them, if so.  But it will never happen.  Education is socialism.  Giving workers more money for something immeasurable is fraught with error.  Giving workers anything more than the next guy gets is unfair, to many.

Students are living entities, not products that can be measured at the end of a business cycle.  Should we reward teachers when their students grown biologically and mature?  Sometimes that is all a student needs to understand more complex content.

If I am going to be rewarded because of my students’ outcomes on tests, it would be easy to teach right to the outcomes.  I would request all AP and Honors Classes, or the very low classes.  The problem with the very low classes is the commitment issue.  Students just simply do not come to school.  OK, then make everything college preparatory.  But wait, then the standards are higher, and the lower-acheiving students still might not come to school.  When they do, they might not evidence the scores necessary to make me look good.  What to do?

How about if an entire school shows improvement on its API and AYP, then reward all the teachers?  Nope, that won’t work.  Some slugs will get the benefit of my hard work.  Remember, this is socialism and everybody shares in the wealth.  How about teachers negotiate their own contracts and, based on education and years of experience . . . nahhhhh.  We are public–not private business.  We are funded by tax dollars and an annual budget.  The gal with the BA and three-years experience will complain when the 20-year veteran gets more money–especially if she is well-liked by her students and parents and she coaches too!  How could any state ever predict the “merit” of any given year and come up with the funds to reward, when they can’t pay their bills now.  Budgets are written for years that do not exist yet.

The president spoke as a private citizen, because he surely is absent the depths of today’s education dilemmas.  His children have never attended public schools.  He has no plan to improve schools.  He simply wants to dismantle No Child Left Behind and replace it with his own, larger government program:  Race to the Top–which brings so many strings from the federal level that states have said “no” to the money.

Measuring success is one thing.  Controlling schools is another.  The president’s option is to control and dictate who and what is deemed successful.  When a person or government entity has this type of control, it is easy, then, to speak of success and failure.

I will never understand politicians and bureaucrats whose own families have never spent time in public schools of today.  I don’t think a set of affirmative action bureaucrats have a clue about competition in its purest sense.

So, President Obama, I await your plan to allow me to compete for money and rewards.  Whatcha got bro?

%d bloggers like this: