Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teachers Are Just Different

From the New York Times:

MICHAEL MULGREW is an affable former Brooklyn vocational-high-school teacher who took over last year as head of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers when his predecessor, Randi Weingarten, moved to Washington to run the national American Federation of Teachers. Over breakfast in March, we talked about a movement spreading across the country to hold public-school teachers accountable by compensating, promoting or even removing them according to the results they produce in class, as measured in part by student test scores. Mulgrew’s 165-page union contract takes the opposite approach. It not only specifies everything that teachers will do and will not do during a six-hour-57 ½-minute workday but also requires that teachers be paid based on how long they have been on the job. Once they’ve been teaching for three years and judged satisfactory in a process that invariably judges all but a few of them satisfactory, they are ensured lifetime tenure.

Next to Mulgrew was his press aide, Richard Riley. “Suppose you decide that Riley is lazy or incompetent,” I asked Mulgrew. “Should you be able to fire him?”

“He’s not a teacher,” Mulgrew responded. “And I need to be able to pick my own person for a job like that.” Then he grinned, adding: “I know where you’re going, but you don’t understand. Teachers are just different.”

Not only are we different, we're special. And don't you forget it.


Anonymous said...

And therein, lies the problem with public education. I teach in a parochial high school and we have one year contracts. Make about 75% of what public counterparts make, but 80% of our faculty have been here more than 20 years. You do the job, you get rehired. No one worries about job security. We rarely have anyone leave for the more lucrative public sector. Yes, we've had to cut staff as enrollment fluctuates, but why should educators be handled differently from the very people who provide their salaries?

allen (in Michigan) said...

Because they can bend the political system to their demands. Everything else is just transparent rationalization.