Today's sermon: Weed Out the Weak
As a public employee, I can understand having to pay more of my health care and pension costs. Notwithstanding what you have heard about school teachers, we are also taxpayers, and we know that times are hard everywhere. We are willing to do our part.
This differentiates us from the one percent, who aren't budging a fat inch.
I am really disturbed, however, by an article I read yesterday in New Jersey Magazine about a new "report card" system about to be launched upon teachers. This system, under the guise of making tenured teachers more accountable, actually kills tenure completely. If a teacher gets an unsatisfactory rating two consecutive years, he or she can be fired.
The tenure system dates from an era when teachers were among the few professionals who earned college degrees. It is, pure and simple, job protection. And while some few teachers cruise through doing nothing (in my school I would say we have one out of 50 who does this), most teachers are dedicated and hard-working, and happy about that job security.
I have so many concerns about this "report card" that I can hardly enumerate them. But the biggest one I see is very disturbing. I already see it happening in other industries.
The concern is this: What happens to a person whose abilities erode due to age or infirmity? Maybe I'm worried about the "shoot the old horse, he eats too much" problem because I will be getting old and infirm while teaching. I have seen older teachers wilt under the pressure and stress of the job. Not all the time, but sometimes. Are we going to reward a person for a lifetime of public service by firing him or her due to infirmity, absenteeism, or just plain age? Is it a coincidence that these older teachers are the best paid?
It says in the article that teacher evaluations, formal and informal, will be done on IPads. Yo, they've built a better clipboard!
Teachers, who are already buried in paperwork, will have to be proactive in creating records of their effectiveness. I would love to hear from anyone who will help me create the protocol for these records.
The following is a true story:
Some of you stalwart readers might remember Mr. Bigwand, my night school teacher who had perfected the gift of gab to a standard set only by the worst broken records. Bigwand told this story at least four times during the course of my long year under his
One of Bigwand's female colleagues received an unsatisfactory evaluation for a school year. In her rebuttal, she wrote, "I am sorry I was ineffective this year. Perhaps it was due to breast cancer surgery and a long recuperation that included radiation and chemotherapy. I'll try not to ever get sick again."
There you have it. Teachers will be fired for being sick (thus saving high health care costs for their districts) and being old (thus saving high salaries for their districts). All other teachers will take evasive action and live in a constant state of anxiety.
A constant state of anxiety. Wow. Why should teachers be any different from any other workers in this country?
No reason, except we're entrusted with your kid. Anxiety does not improve effectiveness, even in open warfare.