Friday, September 21, 2007

What Makes a Quality Teacher? Part 1


They all say it: Joel Klein, Christopher Cerf, Randi Weingarten, Bill Clinton, Eli Broad - the entire mishpucha. "The single most important factor in education is the quality of the teacher."

The Quality Teacher issue is one worth exploring and we will do so in a series of posts.

Does the
quality of the kids and their families have any impact at all on the quality of the teacher? This is a question loaded with implications. We won't go there yet.

The focus on the QT issue, naturally leads to the conclusion that when students and schools fail, there can be mainly one cause - the quality of the teacher. That is the most important factor, isn't it? Hey! They all said it.

Why would a leader of a teachers union go along with this idea when it can only lead to the "blame the teacher" witch hunt mentality with all the consequences — U-ratings, rubber rooms, loads of useless PD [professional Development for those not familiar with educational gunk words], total control of what to teach, how to teach it, when to teach, etc. (often decided by supervisors who have spent 10 minutes in the classroom,) is beyond some people.

But then again you have a chancellor and union president who have spent 10 minutes in the classroom.

There are lots of answers - from – "the UFT is in the PD business and stands to profit from PD, certainly in that scads of jobs are created for the Unity caucus faithful" to "the UFT leadership basically lines up with the rest of the
mishpucha philosophically - as befitting of people who think they have answers to educational issues but do not have much teaching experience to really make these judgements. I have not heard many working [classroom] teachers make the claim that "The single most important factor in education is the quality of the teacher."

I guess they're not part of the


  1. Great post! There is also the problem with who determines the quality? My state determines it one way compared to another state. I hear at football games that if the team loses the coach didn't have much to work with or he did the best he could. No one questions his quality. Yet as teachers, we are supposed to make all of the students we teach succeed or we are the problem. No wonder it is getting harder and harder to recruit good teachers.

  2. Check out eduwonkette on this issue in the series of posts this week.


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