Posts tagged ‘Tenure’

February 18, 2013

Opinion: Incompetent teachers? What about administrators?

By Jim Wilson | Published February 17, 2013 by The Montreal Gazette


“When claiming that we must get rid of incompetent teachers, what do we propose, then, that administrators and school boards can do to help this happen? Very few school administrators seem to be comfortable evaluating their staff, so they avoid undertaking a process that could lead to potential dismissal. Given the amount of administrative work being handed down to them by the government and their school boards, they prefer to skirt the work involved, often by suggesting that collective agreements inhibit their ability to issue warnings, or reprimands, that could lead to arbitration.

Yet the agreement is clear and concise regarding the disciplinary process — although, in fairness, it can be time-consuming, too. It is far from easy being a school administrator, but then neither is it easy to be a teacher. Note how very few administrators ever request a return to the classroom.

If we are going to take the position that we have incompetent teachers, are we prepared to accept that one reason why is that we have incompetent administrators, too? Inevitably in education, teachers are the focus of attention in ways that principals never are.

In my decades of work in the classroom and as a union leader, I can only recall one instance of a principal being removed. There had been difficulties in three schools where she was the principal — and so she was given a job with the school board.

A teacher should be so fortunate.”

Read more:

August 25, 2012

Education and the 2012 Quebec Election: Part Seven – What do the Parties Have Planned for Teachers?

By Robert Green

Thus far this series has looked at where Quebec’s political parties stand on education funding, curriculum reform, school autonomy ,the abolition of school boards , reducing the dropout rate and private school subsidies. This article will examine what the parties have in store for the province’s teachers.

Right now across North America there is a well financed war being waged against teachers and their unions. The proponents of this war argue that the source of poor student achievement is too many lazy or incompetent teachers with too much job security. The solution they propose is usually a combination of taking away the job security and collective bargaining rights of teachers along with some form of merit pay scheme. In the US this is being achieved through the closing of public schools and the opening of semi-private charter schools (staffed by non-unionized teachers) in their place. This is the vision of school reform promoted by those referred to as “corporate education reformers” through slickly produced propaganda films such as “Waiting for Superman” and the soon to be released “Won’t Back Down”.

The first problem with this narrative is that it is extremely insulting to the vast majority of teachers who are neither lazy nor incompetent and who in fact donate untold hours of unpaid work on their evenings and weekends to help their students succeed.

The more serious problem with this narrative from a policy perspective, is that it is directly contradicted by the available evidence. Other than class size, the amount of experience possessed by teachers is one of the few factors that have been shown by a wide body of evidence to be correlated positively with increased student success. Not surprisingly then, since unions protect the job security and working conditions of teachers, improved student success is also correlated with rates of unionization. The fact that a teacher’s working conditions happen also to be the student’s learning conditions goes a long way in explaining this. While it is true that correlation is not necessarily an indication of causation, those advocating to improve schools by attacking teachers unions need to explain why it is that students in regions without teachers unions do consistently worse in terms of achievement than students in regions where teachers are unionized.

read more »

August 16, 2012

Walmart, Right-Wing Media Company Hold Star-Studded Benefit Promoting Education Reform Film

By Josh Eidelson, Published August 15, 2012 by In These Times

The world’s largest private-sector employer and the country’s most prominent conservative entertainment company have teamed up to sponsor a fundraiser called “Teachers Rock.” Backed by Walmart and Anschutz Film Group, the August 14 event will feature live performances from musicians like Josh Groban and appearances from actresses like Viola Davis; it will be broadcast August 18 as a CBS special with messages from actresses like Meryl Streep. And it will promote the upcoming feature film Won’t Back Down, Anschutz’s entry in the “education reform” wars.

Won’t Back Down is reportedly a highly sympathetic fictional portrayal of “parent trigger” laws, a major flashpoint in debates over education and collective bargaining. Under such laws, the submission of signatures from a majority of parents in a school triggers a “turnaround option,” which can mean the replacement of a unionized school with a non-union charter. Such laws have been passed in several states, but due to court challenges, the “trigger” process has never been fully implemented.

“It’s another Waiting for Superman,” says Jose Vilson, a New York City math teacher and board member of the Center for Teacher Quality. “You have these popular actors, who as well-intentioned as they may be, they may not know all the facts, but they’re willing to back up a couple of corporate friends or people maybe they’ve become familiar with” in “trying to promote this sort of vision.”

Parent trigger is one of the model bills pushed by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Adamantly opposed by teachers unions, parent trigger bills (as I’ve reported for Salon) have often been spearheaded and supported by Democratic politicians. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed slamming teachers unions, Campbell Brown highlighted Won’t Back Down as evidence that “teachers unions have become a ripe target for reformers across the ideological spectrum” and Hollywood “has turned on unions.”

Read more:

April 21, 2012

Get Rid of Teachers or Encourage them To Stay — What is Best for our Schools?

By Mark Simon. Posted April 15, 2012 at Education Week – Teacher

“After over a decade of “corporate reform” strategies in many places, we have a chance to compare the results of two drastically different approaches to improving public schools. In some places, such as Washington, DC, we have seen teacher turnover skyrocket, in line with the belief that lagging student performance is due to inferior teachers. In Montgomery County, Maryland, the teachers’ union and District have been following a different path for the last fifteen years, and are seeing dramatic results.

“Corporate reform” is the moniker earned by the dominant paradigm in school turnarounds, the one promoted by the US Department of Education and championed by foundations established by successful corporate titans Bill Gates and Eli Broad. According to this approach, if students aren’t performing, start by getting rid of the adults who must be, by definition, responsible. This blame, fire, and hire strategy is imported from the corporate world where Jack Welsh and Donald Trump are the archetypal heroes. The problem is that after over thirteen years of this approach there’s little success to point to on a national scale. Cleaning house, what we used to call “reconstitution,” has, at best, a mixed track record.

It seems that corporate reformers and reformers who actually work in schools instinctively disagree on the best first step to improve a low performing school. Now there’s an excellent new study by Matthew Ronfeldt, Susanna Loeb, and Jim Wyckoff, “How Teacher Turnover Harms Student Achievement,” which correlates high teacher turnover with lower student achievement. It’s sad that we need a study by economists to give us permission to assert what to educators is self-evident. But it’s time to look more closely at examples of where each approach is working, or isn’t. Two districts next door to each other provide a contrast in approaches with lessons about what works, and what doesn’t.”

Read more: