Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Memories of Klein's Twists on Seniority

I was asked to write an article on seniority for The Indypendent by John Tarleton. My brain is semi-mush and I went off on a hundred tangents in trying to explain the entire mess. Thanks to John's brilliant editing, the article actually makes sense. It should be out in a day or two. In my original draft version I touched on some of the issues brought up here by Leonie, Lisa and myself below but there was no room for a full explanation. So this back and forth below fills in some of the gaps if you happen to read the article. (How interesting that two parent leaders are so adept at addressing this issue while you know which org doesn't even try or does it ineptly when they do try.)

On the NYCEdNews Listserve (where info flies like UFOs)

Leonie Haimson writes:

Does anyone besides me remember how Joel Klein used to complain that seniority transfers led to a dearth of experienced, accomplished and properly licensed teachers in low-performing, high poverty schools, because it allows those teachers to transfer out into high-performing schools? And that he needed to be able to perform“involuntary transfers” to move experienced teachers into high needs schools?
On the matter of seniority, he criticized the system whereby new teachers are generally placed in the lowest-performing schools, while senior teachers have the option to transfer into better schools, calling it ''so profoundly unfair to our children and to our youngest teachers.'' And now he has been complaining, endlessly, that seniority protections in the contract means that some schools would have to lay off their new, enthusiastic and energetic teachers, in order to accept more experienced ones?

I (Norm, in case you forgot) followed up:
I remember - it was bait and switch. Klein twisted the seniority issue every way into a knot. He also made the claim that schools with senior, higher priced teachers were getting unfair higher funding which he twisted into the fair funding formula that led to schools being charged for teacher salaries and principals wanting to dump salary. All part of a plan. The 2005 contract was the key that opened the door. In the business model, assume that any difference in skill between a 10 year and 23 year teacher is not worth the large difference in salary. Why keep anyone over 10 years? Like some twilight zone episode where the planet was so crowded the day you turned 30 you were put to death. Ideally for the ed deformers, the day you reach your 10th anniversary as a teacher - you are gone. The long term future of the teaching "profession."

Lisa Donlan added
Yes- this was the justification for inventing the so called Fair Student Funding Formula- which DoE said would finally stop the inequities among schools w/ unequal quality staffs. Quality teachers at that time were defined as the more "experienced" teachers and those trained in math and science.

Shortly thereafter the Tweedies began repeating that research showed that the best way to achieve academic progress- as defined by rising student test scores- was to hire high quality teachers - as defined by those that raise student test scores.

This tautology made it apparent that the last "accountability" mirage re-org strategy was to actually make the tests the curriculum, deprofessionalize teaching, reducing NYC schools to test prep factories w/ temporary workers.

Then they realized charters could do it all for them, and all they'd have to do is run the accountability data collection/measuring part.

Voila- no more pesky education to be bothered with at all anymore.

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