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26 June 2014 @ 11:55 am
Tenure and Tenor  
There have been quite a few articles related to the Vergara ruling against teacher tenure in California. Here is one from Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/california-kids-win-tenure-gets-fired-254437. Rather than doing due diligence and actually conducting research, this journalist opted for the teacher basking approach. Here is one paragraph that was particularly ve4xing to me: "A good deal of research suggests that most teachers hit their peak at about five years in the classroom and don’t significantly improve their practice after that. In other words, a Teacher for America whippersnapper might actually be a superior educator to the 30-year veteran who has been giving out the same worksheets since Bill Clinton took his first presidential oath. That suggests our educational policy should be geared toward attracting bright young things who will stay for more than a couple of years, but less than a couple of decades. But the unions, which largely draw their support from veteran teachers, have rigged the pay scale so that those who stay the longest reap the greatest reward."

Here is yet another of those vague condemnations of teachers with experience. Lots of research, according to the writer, suggests that teachers peak at 5 years. Really? Then I am way past my expiration date as I near 40 years of teaching. I probably need to be discarded before I grow any more mold. And to equate a TFA grad with 5 weeks of training to a 30 year veteran? That is just trash talk. If there is a teacher who is using the same worksheets for 30+ years, then perhaps it is time to suggest a new career path. But I just do not know where these creature exist. I suspect they exist only in the minds, the fantasies of writers who know NOT.A.Thing. about teaching and teachers. The idea that those darned veteran teachers rig the pay scale so they get paid more? Wow! First, teachers and unions cannot rig scales. This author is giving them too much credit. The credit (blame) rests with others. And imagine paying more for experience? What a notion! Oh wait, I pay the woman who does my hair more because of her experience. You know what? She is worth every penny. That experience means I will have someone who knows about different types of hair, who knows how to cut it, knows how to color it, knows how to style it.

And here is the final salvo of the article: "The enemies of reform will inevitably point to the fact that Vergara was brought by Students Matter, an advocacy group funded by the Silicon Valley entrepreneur David F. Welch. These fervid paranoids will suggest that some nefarious forces are at work here, that our public schools are on the verge of an invasion of hedge-fund managers. I say good for Welch. He could have bought a yacht. Instead, he gave poor kids in Los Angeles a voice."

How nice that the rich man helped the poor kids with his voice (money). How nice that Gates is doing the same. What we need in education is funding. What we do NOT need are outsiders who dangle funding with all manner of provisos. Mr. Welch should have bought a yacht instead of trying to buy his version of what is fair. I wonder how long he has been managing hedge funds? Perhaps it is time for him to seek employment elsewhere because he has "peaked?" Maybe he could attend 5 weeks of training and become a teacher. But only for five years.
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