Responding to the ridicule of teachers and the teaching profession by politicians and self proclaimed "experts"!
"Where is Albert Shanker now that we need him?" - Walt Sautter

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Fear of Firing

I read an article on the front page of  the Ledger on September 24th. It was lengthy so let me summarize. It pertained to a law suit regarding the firing of Mr. Jose Cotto, a non tenured Newark Public School teacher.
            Mr. Cotto received a death threat from a student during class. The boy was sent out of class only to return a short time later. Mr. Cotto, fearing for his safety, called the Newark Police who where turned away when they arrived at the school.
            Subsequently, Mr. Cotto was fired for "making too much noise" about the incident. He then filed a suit claiming wrongful dismissal and was awarded $225,000. The boy has since been jailed for the murder to two people during a hold up.
            The principal of the school has since been place on "principal without placement" status (whatever that means?).
The jury unanimously declared the teacher was fired for being a "whistle blower" while the city cited Mr. Cotto as a poor teacher who "normally tasked students with memorization and did little to improve his lesson plans" (again - whatever that means?).
            I have several serious questions about this whole thing aside from the main issue of  the teacher's unlawful dismissal and the refusal by the administration to provide a safe working environment for  him and his other students.
            Firstly, Mr. Cotto taught Spanish. How can anyone learn Spanish without memorization. If you don't memorize Spanish vocabulary how can you speak Spanish. This points clearly to the absurdity of allowing those who know little or nothing about the subject to evaluate a teacher.
            Secondly, if evaluations by poor or incompetent administrators are allowed to determine whether a teacher is going to receive a raise or possibly even be fired, can we expect many more incidents of administrative failure to go unreported?
            How many times have you experienced or heard of disruptive students being sent to the office only to return shortly with little or no consequences.
            How many times have you experienced or heard "don't send them to the office - if you are a 'good teacher' you should be able to handle classroom discipline".
            How many times have you experienced or heard "if the teacher made the class interesting there would be no discipline problems".
            If tenure is eliminated and the "merit system" is introduced (as the politicians would like) expect even more of this. It doesn't bode well for the teaching profession and the learning by students in a chaotic environment.

            Mr. Cotto worked in the Newark Public School System. Newark (as well as Paterson, Camden, Jersey City, etc.) has been run by the state for over a decade.
            Wouldn't one think that with all the "education experts" at NJDOE, the problems of all of these districts would now be in the rear view mirror?
            Could it be that the State has found the rehabilitation of these systems is a task that they have not and cannot accomplish? I guess, now, instead of being held accountable for their failure, they find it much easier to blame on the "hordes" of "poor teachers" in these schools.

1 comment:

  1. In previous employment, I've experienced all of those things. A student threw a pencil sharpener at me and it hit me less than an inch away from my eye. He was suspended from class for a day. Because it was really my fault for explaining a problem to a student and allowing that student to get bored in the meantime. Bad teacher!


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