The Few Bad Apples
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Help me today, Ogma. I have to sound wise.
My previous post sparked some debate about teachers and their safety net, better known as tenure.
I will grant you that some tenured teachers cruise. They couldn't care less about their students. Yes, this is true. I see it in my school.
However, tenure exists to protect vulnerable, underpaid workers from being fired at whim by new administrators who want to hire their own people. Tenure protects older workers from being fired because they cost more to insure. Let's see ... is anyone in any other industry being fired right now because they're getting older and sick? Uh oh! Widespread practice!
As an untenured teacher in my first year, I have been formally observed four times already. If the people who observed me also had to observe every teacher in the school four times before mid-year, it would be the vice principals burning out, not the teachers!
Tenured teachers are observed and critiqued. They are expected to participate in at least 20 hours of professional development per year. It is to be hoped that they will continue to have high professional standards for themselves after achieving tenure. Most, almost all, of my colleagues do.
If I didn't think I could get job security within a few years, I would not be able to do this job. I've never had a more stressful occupation in my life. And I love my students. I love my subject matter. I do well on my evaluations. But I just couldn't face year after year after year of such constant scrutiny. Not that I plan to slough off, but I need to feel safe.
Anyone who does not like public schools can take advantage of the immense amount of home school teaching opportunities offered in this computer age. In my opinion, however, a student is always better off at school, with peers. School is where students learn to co-exist with one another, to deal with authority in a mature manner, and to earn praise from someone who is impartial. When my students impress me, they aren't impressing their moms or dads. They're impressing the teacher.
I have a lot to learn about teaching, but I think in three years I'll about have it nailed. Either that or I'll be dead, because this is tougher than writing an encyclopedia, tougher than building chimneys out of limestone, tougher than alphabetizing cards in an Ivy League university library, tougher by far than interviewing Michael Vick upon his return to pro football.
Some nights when I get home from work (typically a 12 hour day), I literally fall asleep in the driver's seat of the car. Would I be willing to work this hard if I could be canned in ten years because I'm no longer spry? I'm not a pre-Wobbly factory slave. I'm a professional!
We at "The Gods Are Bored" support tenure in public schools, recognizing that the system isn't perfect, but also that children would be served far more poorly if the tenure track did not exist. Just like any other industry, education would love to hire a new crop of college kids every year and let the older workers go. How would that help students to learn?