Friday, November 16, 2007

Witch Hunts for Teachers


graphic by DB

Thursday's NY Times article on the DOE's attempt to start a with hunt to remove ""poor" - read - "tenured, higher salaried" - teachers sent another chill down the spines of NYC teachers. Are they hiring lawyers to remove bad cops or lawyers or doctors? How about that doctor that risked 600 patients with hep C and is not sent to the doctor RR. How about police who are of "lower quality?" These people can actually kill people.

Why the focus on "bad" teachers and how hard it is to get rid of them? Getting rid of a doctor is almost impossible. There are doctors practicing who are not board certified. Do we see bad lawyers being disbarred ( to the RR of the legal profession)?

The witch hunt is part of the concerted attack on teacher unionism as a supposed obstruction to education, part of the general plan of assault on the public schools.

It is very dangerous rhetoric (from Weingarten to Bill Clinton to Joel Klein) to bring up the issue that the most important thing in education is a quality teacher because then witch hunts ensue. In fact what is a quality teacher? We have the same bell curve of quality (a very thin term to use) teachers as in any other job - superb to average to below average to awful.

But the people judging have a different agenda. I saw in my own school my principal support one of the most incompetent and abusive (to children) teachers because he was loyal -- he knew how to play the game.

I know of a 20 year teacher under attack at a middle school. The other day I spoke to a colleague of hers and she told me the admin in her school targets one teacher a year for u rating as a demo of power and to keep people in line.

So the Jack Welch philosophy leads to quotas. - get rid of your negative people and the "bottom" 20%. (And if you haven't read it yet read Mary Hoffman's wonderful piece "Jack Welch is My Daddy" at the ICE web site http://ice-uft.org/daddy.htm which details the impact of the Welch/Leadership Academy principal at her school (also my former school.)

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