Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hold The Presses, I Agree With The President!

I'm not a supporter of Race To The Top, and I didn't like the way he threw the DC voucher kids under the bus, but he at least talks the talk when it comes to education:

So, I want teachers to have higher salaries. I want them to have more support. I want them to be trained like the professionals they are – with rigorous residencies like the ones doctors go through. I want to give them career ladders so they have opportunities to advance, and earn real financial security. I want them to have a fulfilling and supportive workplace environment, and the resources – from basic supplies to reasonable class sizes – to help them succeed. Instead of a culture where we’re always idolizing sports stars or celebrities, I want us to build a culture where we idolize the people who shape our children’s future.

All I’m asking in return – as a president, and as a parent – is a measure of accountability. Surely we can agree that even as we applaud teachers for their hard work, we need to make sure they’re delivering results in the classroom. If they’re not, let’s work with them to help them be more effective. And if that fails, let’s find the right teacher for that classroom. As Arne says, our kids get only one chance at an education, and we need to get it right.

Update: Here's a little more, from the New York Times.


DADvocate said...

I want teachers to have higher salaries, too. But, for those higher salaries, they have to give up some of the protections they have now. Firing poorly performing teachers should be expected and not hindered by unions or civil service protection.

I've argued that K-12 teachers are more important that college professors in that they touch more lives and educate more people. We should seek out the best and the brightest to do this job. Currently, K-12 teachers are a hot bed of mediocrity.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Maybe I'm wrong and Obama isn't concerned with papering over the divide in the Democratic party over education. Maybe he's decided the future of the Democratic party doesn't require the support of the teachers unions but does require a continued lock on the black vote. Maybe he's letting the NEA know that they can't dictate to him and he understands that the NEA needs the Democratic party more then the Democratic party needs the NEA.

The part of the speech referring too education had a certain "in your face" quality that suggests Race To The Top isn't going to be the last statement on education to issue from the Obama administration and that the next policy announcement's unlikely to make the NEA any happier then the first.

Whatever the truth is I think the Democratic party is in for some wrenching fights.

High School Tchr said...

What about administrator accountability? What about parent(s) accountability? Or here's a radical idea....what about student accountability?

Why are none of these ever figured in to the equation?

No one.....and I mean no one is in charge of my learning except me. Now a teacher can make my learning fun, interesting, challenging, etc. Or, they can make it boring, tedious, and hard. And, I've had all kinds of teachers in my life, but they never.....never.....never took my ability to learn away from me.

Who started this message that teachers have such power that they are the "be-all" and "end-all" to student learning? I see too many students these days with a look in their eye as if to say, "Teach me. I dare you." I think this message of teachers having such phenomenal power over student learning is having a negative effect.

Why are we not giving the message to young people that they have an incredible capacity to learn no matter what obstacles come their way?

I had a Vietnamese freshman boy in class who had come to America the year before. He knew no english when he came, and when I had him in class his english was ok. He carried a dictionary with him every day, and I saw him refer to it often. Today, as a senior, he speaks fluent english and spanish, and is in the top of his class.

Never underestimate the power of the human spirit and mind.

Unfortunately, the message to our young people today is "Just sit back, do nothing, if you fail, we'll blame someone else for it."

Darren said...

While the others have responsibility, *we* are the ones *paid* by the taxpayer to teach. Administrators have a certain amount of accountability--if the school doesn't do well, they can be replaced.

The fact that there are others out there at whom we can (legitimately) point fingers doesn't relieve us of our responsibility, for which we are paid, to try to teach kids. And there's plenty of evidence out there that some of our colleagues are falling down on the job, and their unions defend them.

High School Tchr said...

Your right Darren, I agree with everything you said. I'm not trying to come up with excuses to relieve teachers of their responsibilities.

There is a difference in teaching and learning. I'm responsible for teaching, but the student is responsible for learning.

Maybe its the school I'm in. I've seen situations where a student didn't pass their math standardized test and the teacher was called in on the carpet for it. But a closer look reveals that the student was absent from school 50% of the time. So, my point is why is the teacher being held responsible? It should be the parent, and the student.

Likewise, this is probably why we've had a 75% turnover in staff in the last 3 years. Teachers are being held to an unrealistic standard.

I would love to see higher pay, more respect and support in our profession. But, I don't believe Obama is a man of his word, so I doubt any of this will happen.

Darren said...

What you just described isn't *really* "holding teachers accountable", it's exceedingly poor leadership by the school administration--and would be seen as such by 100% of normal people outside of education.

DADvocate said...

What about parent(s) accountability?

I take responsibility for my kids, who also happen to be honor students. But, in my experience the only times teachers are interested in hearing from me is when they want me to help them do something they want to do. When I have a complaint or criticism, it's batten the hatches, circle the wagons, and Katie bar the door against this lay person who just doesn't know what it's like to be a teacher. Be more receptive to parents and you'll have more parents being involved, "accountable", etc.