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

Thursday, 19 June 2014


Here is the editorial in yesterday's Star Ledger filled again with absurdity and fuzzy thinking.
It begins by claiming that the current actions by politicians and “educrats” are to "reform" seniority and tenure. Why do they refuse to call it what it is - ELIMINATION. Since when does reform = elimination?
They go on to claim that elimination of these rights, which have endured for over one hundred years, will make teaching more attractive and will help to recruit more highly qualified people.
The editorial writer seems to think that academically talented people will flock to colleges and universities, dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars and devote countless hours of study to become a teacher. They will do this to get a job where they will become an "at will employee", can accrue no seniority, must work until 65 in order to retire, will pay an ever increasing portion of their health benefits costs, can look forward to a bankrupt pension system, be evaluated by the test taking skills of children on tests which may or may not be appropriate or accurate and endure constant criticism and degradation by the media and the public.
The editorial goes on to say "teachers must earn respect". Just exactly how can that be done in a situation where everything about your job comes from on high and often from those who have never taught or if they did it was decades ago in a private school for only four or five years at most. To make things even more difficult every new administration comes with a new educational scheme, new "experts" and plethoras of mandates and paperwork. 
These people tell you what to teach, when to teach it, how to teach it and then hold you responsible when it doesn't work.
How can someone earn respect when he is held as the scapegoat for high taxes and the "failing schools" that exist in impoverished communities?
How can teachers earn respect when they are held responsible for poor student performance but are given no tools to correct it? If a child refuses to study and cooperate no teacher, not even Socrates can make them learn.
The constant cry from the "educrats" and the media is the teacher is required to make it interesting - engage the student. So in other words, the teacher must be a teacher and an entertainer and a constant cajoler or else he is a poor teacher.
And what about disruptive behavior? How is he/she to deal with that?
Certainly corporal punishment is out as well it should be but now even raising one's voice might be considered "bullying". How about continually asking a student to pay attention or act appropriately? Could that be "bullying" or "singling out"?
If students do poorly on State testing is it because of a "poor" teacher? Is "poor student" participation in the learning process ever considered? And how about a poor attitude fostered at home?
I must assume that the writer of this editorial is a product of the American educational system. Considering that, I would have to agree that there must be some poor teachers in the system and those that taught him logic and reasoning must be among them.
The article extols the virtues of Finish education. I have posted information about that system directly underneath the editorial and underlined some key ideas. It is interesting how it compares with our approach to education and educators. The key factor in their successful educational system is attitude which is exactly what American education lacks.
Americans seem to be saying - "We send them to school and it's your job to make them smart and if you can't do it you're a poor teacher!"
Finns seem to be saying - "Let's work together and do whatever we can to educate our children". They avoid finger pointing and name calling and constantly invoking the new schemes dreamed up the "education experts" year in and year out.

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