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Filed under Teacher Bashing
Tagged as Last In First Out, Michelle Rhee, studentsfirst.org, Teacher Tenure
I just read your article: Experienced teachers aren’t the problem (Phila., Inquirer, 11/3), and although you make some good points, I believe you give much more credit to “experienced” teachers than they deserve. I would like to relate one personal story. A good friend of mine was made principal of a Philadelphia public elementary school. She had a meeting with the teachers to introduce herself and to try to get the school year off to a good start. As she spoke, an older teacher, standing in the back, with her arms crossed over her chest kept nodding in a negative way. After the meeting, this woman approached my friend and said, “Don’t even try it; better than you have tried to get rid of me and they ain’t succeeded yet.” How about that for arrogance! It would be hard for me to believe that this person was an effective teacher for children.
As for new teachers, they do have the problems you describe but many of them will disappear as they gain experience. Another personal story – my son-in-law accepted a position, again in a Philadelphia public elementary school. He was excited and eager to start his job. On the weekend before school was scheduled to open, he and my daughter decorated his classroom (at their own expense) with educational materials and attractive age-appropriate decorations. When he arrived at school on monday, everything had disappeared – no one knew a thing about it. In addition, since he was the only male teacher in the school, he was summoned and expected to control all misbehavior (often involving violence) in the halls, rest rooms, and even other classrooms. These incidents happened frequently and he began to feel that he was not effective because he had to spend so much time out of his classroom: he resigned. So, the problem is not just inexperience, but the whole nature of the public school system in Philadelphia. I certainly do not want to play the “race card” but I do think it needs to be taken into consideration that he was the only white teacher in a school whose makeup was about 96% black.
My point is that instead of bashing Michelle Rhee, who is trying to come up with some solutions (personally, I firmly believe that “layoffs should be based on job performance instead of seniority”), that you support her efforts. I don’t see one viable suggestion in the entire article. Why not start by devising a “proven, reliable way to measure teachers’ effectiveness.” And why are we so concerned about “teacher morale?” Your solution is to keep all teachers (I guess, after a certain number of years) whether they are doing a good job or not.
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