Archives for category: Teacher Tenure

Recently the Los Angeles Times published a poll showing that most people dislike tenure, probably thinking it means a job for life, protecting incompetent lazy teachers. Do they know that tenure means due process, the right to a hearing before an independent person? I don’t know of another nation where education leaders are so obsessed with finding and firing teachers. Why aren’t they obsessed with recruiting well-prepared teachers, supporting them, mentoring them, and retaining them? These results are the direct consequence of the corporate reform mentality, displayed in Race to the Top and “Waiting for ‘Superman.'” Keeping this narrative going discourages people from entering teaching–a very difficult and low-paid career choice with long hours–and encourages veteran teachers to leave. We are approaching a crisis where the question will be: How can we persuade people to enter and stay in teaching? But of course, the entrepreneurs will be ready with online learning so that one paraprofessional can oversee 100 students. Maybe that’s the point.

 

Here are some letters written in response to the poll. Notice the letter from the teacher affiliated with the Gates-funded TeachPlus, who is willing to jettison job protections for all teachers because she knows a few “bad” teachers.

A recent poll reported in the Los Angeles Times produced interesting results and a divide between Latino and white voters.

 

Latino voters support standardized tests, while most white oppose them.

 

Both groups support public schools (as compared to privately managed schools), but Latino voters support them by larger margins.

 

A majority of Latino voters, 55%, said mandatory exams improve public education in the state by gauging student progress and providing teachers with vital information. Nearly the same percentage of white voters said such exams are harmful because they force educators to narrow instruction and don’t account for different styles of learning.

 

None of the voters know that the new Common Core exams provide no information about how a student is progressing other than a score; they offer no diagnostic information whatever so there is nothing that a teacher or parent learns other than how many answers they got right compared to others in the same grade.

 

Voters were critical of tenure, assuming it means a lifetime job, with whites more critical than Latino and black voters.

 

Latino and black voters believe that more money should be put into schools in poor neighborhoods to improve them:

 

Nearly half of voters surveyed said publicly funded, independently run charter schools offer a higher-quality education than traditional public schools. Still, a majority of white voters, 56%, believe the state should invest in improving existing schools instead of spending additional money to create more charters. Minority voters held on to that belief more strongly, with support between 67% and 69%.

 

Eight out of 10 black and Latino voters said putting more money into schools in economically or socially disadvantaged areas would improve the quality of public education somewhat or a lot, compared with 68% of white voters.

 

The article includes an interview with Dan Schnur of the University of Southern California, brother of Jon Schnur, the architect of Race to the Top. USC conducted the poll.

 

 

When Governor Cuomo’s budget was passed by the Néw York State Senate, it included mandates for test-score based evaluation of teachers and other provisions that teachers found insulting. Here is the State Senate’s Wall of Shame and Wall of Fame, identifying those who voted for and against this anti-teacher legislation. I previously posted a similar chart for the New York Assembly. Save this list for the next election if you live in New York.

 

 

 

 

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Former CNN talking head Campbell Beown is dissatisfied with Néw York’s budget deal, which extends the probationary period for teachers from three years to four years and makes it easier to fire teachers based on test scores, whether tenured or not.

She told Politico.com:

“CAMPBELL BROWN FIGHTS ON: The budget deal recently inked in New York sets out tough new rules [http://bit.ly/1G7uZkC] for evaluating teachers and granting them tenure. But education reform activist Campbell Brown isn’t planning to wait and see how the new system affects the quality of the teaching corps. Her Partnership for Educational Justice plans to press ahead with a lawsuit [http://bit.ly/1NEBytV ] challenging tenure and job protection statutes. The suit, modeled on the successful Vergara case in California, argues that New York laws protect incompetent teachers from dismissal and thus violate students’ right to a quality education. While the budget reforms have promise, Brown said it’s still way too hard for districts to lay off bad teachers, especially those with seniority. “We are glad that Albany appears to have finally woken up to the crisis in our public schools. But make no mistake, they have a long way to go and there is much work ahead,” Brown told Morning Education. “This will have no bearing on the legal case moving forward.”

Clearly she won’t be satisfied until tenure is completely eliminated and teachers can be terminated for any reason without a hearing.

This budget bill includes very detailed provisions that determine how teachers and principals in New York state should be evaluated. Needless to say, it was written by non-educators. Have any of them ever evaluated a teacher? Doubtful. Some of the details of implementation will be turned over to the State Education Department or the Board of Regents, but some features are clear: No teacher can be rated effective if he or she is rated ineffective on student performance (test scores).   The state will require that every teacher be evaluated by an independent person who does not work in the school. How many thousands of evaluators will be hired? What will it cost? Who will pay? No one knows. It is not in the budget. What value is the opinion of someone who observes a teacher or principal for an hour or a few minutes?   This is a bill that is written to oust teachers. It reeks of disrespect. It shows Governor Cuomo’s rage against the people who work with children in public schools every day. This bill is his payback to the teachers’ unions for not endorsing his re-election after he declared himself the lobbyist for charter students (3% of the state’s enrollment). Ironically (or not), many outraged teachers are blaming their union leaders for not fighting this bill. To be sure, it would not have passed without the votes of Assembly Democrats, many of whom said they were voting for it “with a heavy heart.” Just how heavy their hearts were cannot be measured, sort of like trying to measure true learning and true education.   Enrollments in teacher education programs are collapsing, in New York and across the nation. Those who enter teaching today are either woefully uninformed of the politicians’ hostility towards them or are prepared to fight a long battle for their children and their profession.   What kind of society makes war on its teachers?

The ever perceptive Peter Greene watched the Cuomo Teacher-Demolition Derby from afar and found it a disgraceful spectacle. 

He couldn’t decide which was worse: Cuomo’s lust to crush the teachers, who stood by watching him coming with an axe in hand, or the Assembly Democrats, who wailed that they voted for Cuomo’s plan with a heavy heart but did it anyway. As someone tweeted earlier today, “Probably they had a heavy heart because they had no spine.”

Greene writes, for starters:

This has truly been the most bizarre thing I have ever seen. An unpopular proposal that guts teaching as a profession and kicks public education in the teeth, sails through the NY legislature.

Yes, “sails through.” There’s nothing else to call a budget that is approved 92-54.

NY Democrats tried to make it look like less of a total victory-in-a-walk for public education opponent Andrew Cuomo by making sad pouty faces and issuing various meaningless mouth noises while going ahead and voting for the damn thing. “Ohh, woes and sadderations,” they cried as they took turns walking to the podium to give Cuomo exactly the tools he wanted for helping to put an end to teaching as a profession in New York state.

I am not sure what Democrats hoped to accomplish by taking to the podium and twitter to say how deeply, tragically burdened they were. I mean, I guess you’d like to know that people who club baby seals feel a little bit bad about it, but it really doesn’t make a lot of difference to the baby seal, who is in fact still dead.

Maybe the lesson here is that the craziest person in the room controls the conversation. The person who’s willing to ram the car right into the sheer rock face gets to navigate the trip, and Cuomo has displayed repeatedly that he really doesn’t care what has to be smashed up. If the world isn’t going to go on his way, it doesn’t need to go on for anybody.

But if teachers needed reason #2,416 to understand that Democrats simply aren’t friends to public education, there it was, biting its quivering lip and sniffling, “I feel really bad about this” as it tied up education and fired it out of a cannon so that it could land directly under a bus that had been dropped off the Empire State Building.

Hell, even Campbell Brown must be a little gobsmacked, as Cuomo’s budgetary bludgeoning of tenure and job security rules has made her lawsuit unnecessary. The Big Standardized Tests results will continue their reign of teacher evaluation, dropping random and baseless scores onto the heads of New York educators like the feces of so many flying pigs. And all new teachers need to do to get their (soon-to-be-meaningless) tenure is get the random VAM dice to throw up snake-eyes four times in a row. Meanwhile, school districts can go out back to the magic money trees to find the financing for hiring the “outside evaluators” who will provide the cherry on top of the VAM sauce.

Mark Naison of Fordham University writes:

When Democracy Died in the New York State Assembly

Something inside me died tonight in the New York State Assembly. Democratic legislator after Democratic legislator, some who claimed to be lifelong friends of public education, some who were once teachers themselves, caved in and voted for a bill that was going to add to the test burden on the already over tested children of the state, subject teachers to more scripting and more intimidation than they already had to endure and strip power away from principals and local school districts.

Many knew what they voted for was wrong. Many said so in their remarks. But they caved in and voted for a measure that was going to make the lives of their constituents miserable, our of fear, cowardice and a refusal to consider how their actions might look in the broad sweep of historical events

And their actions alerted me to something I had feared for some time. That the voices of ordinary citizens had become so smothered by the power of great wealth that all social policies were now held hostage to the pursuit of private gain. That political leaders, irrespective of political party, no longer felt a moral imperative to consider the “public good;” that they could pay lip service to that ideal in communicating with constituents, but when the chips were down, they would always vote for the interests of the rich and powerful.

I had used certain language, I once though loosely, to describe our current predicament. Words like “Oligarchy” and “Plutocracy.”

Tonight, I realized that those terms were rather precise descriptions of our current political arrangements

The interests of the children, the families, the teachers, the principals and the elected school board of our state were treated as impediments to a vision of educational transformation that handed power and funding over to private interests whose contributions filled the campaign coffers of officials of both parties. That such a give away of power and money took place in a Budget bill that included “ethics reform” made it all the more ironic

This was one of the most blatant displays of political cynicism and political corruption that I have seen in my lifetime.

It was quite literally sickening

I mourn for the children. I mourn for the teachers. I mourn for the principals. I mourn for the schools that will be closed; the school districts that will be taken into receivership.

And I mourn for the democratic spirit, which has disappeared from the political culture of the state and nation in which I live.

I will never accept this as the norm. I will never accommodate to cowardice and evil

And I will not be alone.

The Wall Street Journal reports on some details of New York’s just concluded budget deal:

 

 

The centerpiece of the budget, an ethics overhaul, will require state lawmakers to disclose sources of outside income exceeding $1,000 a year, as well as the services they perform to receive it. And it will force those who work as lawyers or in other client-based jobs to disclose the identity of their clients, with exceptions to be approved by the state ethics agency…..

 

The governor’s push to overhaul public education, partly through instituting a new teacher-evaluation system, was one of the most contentious holdups. The budget agreement puts the job of refining the teacher-evaluation process in the hands of the state education department, and ties it to teacher tenure, which will be available after four years instead of the current three.

 

A joint statement released Sunday by the governor’s office and legislative leaders noted that the deal boosted school aid by $1.4 billion—to $23.5 billion—without specifying changes that the governor said in his budget request that he would require as a condition of increasing school funding.

 

But the spending plan contains few other major policy initiatives—a consequence of the governor’s insistence on including the package of ethics overhauls.

 

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, appeared to sacrifice leverage on other agenda items when he prioritized ethics overhauls, saying he wouldn’t sign off on a budget deal that excluded that package. The bulk of it did end up in the budget.

 

But cut out of the spending plan were many other items Mr. Cuomo highlighted in his combined state-of-the-state and executive budget address this year, including raising the cap on charter schools; mayoral control of schools, which New York City Mayor Bill de Blasiohas advocated; a measure that would bar minors from being tried as adults; and a plan for an independent monitor for police-brutality cases.

 

There are two court cases challenging teacher tenure, one brought by TV journalist Campbell Brown, the other by New York parent Mona Davids. The change in tenure from three years to four years puts New York in a very different position from California, where the Vergara decision overturned a tenure period that was only 18 months long (two school years of nine months each) before teachers were eligible to receive the right to due process.

Jersey Jazzman calls out journalist Jon Chait for being against political correctness except when it serves his purpose.

It seems Chait was deeply offended when I said that former CNN anchor Campbell Brown is no educational expert. Her campaign to eliminate teacher tenure won’t improve education, I dared to say. We might, as a test case, compare the academic performance of states that have tenure with states that don’t, but that involves a rudimentary knowledge of actual research.

It is highly offensive to those bashing teachers to suggest that their campaign to remove teacher tenure and to provide merit pay has no evidence behind it and is illogical. They don’t like it when you point out that VAM sounds good but doesn’t work. If they read the statement of the American Statistical Association, they would be informed, but that requires research, or if you open the link, reading.

Mercedes Schneider has some questions for Campbell Brown. Brown, who once worked for CNN, is now the face of the “reform” movement, at least the teacher-bashing wing of it. She has created an organization that filed a lawsuit opposing teacher tenure in Néw York. Her ostensible motive is to get sexual predators out of the classroom.

Schneider reviews the teachers’ contract in question and wonders whether Brown knows that it was negotiated by Joel Klein. She also wonders why Brown has been silent on the same issues regarding a certain mayor of a certain city in California.

Schneider is perplexed by Brown’s selective indignation. She cites the case of a Department of Education hire (not a member of the teachers’ union) who confessed to multiple charges of statutory rape. Brown’s silence is deafening. She quotes from Patrick Walsh, a teacher-blogger in Néw York City.

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