Valerie Strauss recapitulates the TIME magazine cover story. She notes that the AFT petition in opposition to the TIME cover has collected 50,000 signatures ( it is now up to 70,000). Strauss compares this current cover to the one featuring Michelle Rhee as the one who was likely to “transform education.” She didn’t. The achievement gap in D.C. remains the one of the largest (possibly THE largest) in urban America. And she also proved that it is not impossible to fire tenured teachers; she fired hundreds of teachers and principals.

 

Why pick on teachers? Is it because it is a female-dominated profession? Is it part of the tech millionaires’ dream of replacing live teachers with laptops and tablets?

 

TIME agreed to print some responses.

 

One was written by Randi Weingarten of the AFT, and I think she got it exactly right. We need to focus on recruiting, retaining, and supporting teachers. Schools in stressed districts are not getting the funding they need for the children they serve. We must do more to combat and reduce poverty and segregation.

 

Another was written by Lily Eskelsen Garcia of the NEA, and it has just the right tone of amazement and outrage:

 

A fabulous friend recently said to me, “I’m just so tired of the new national pastime – Beat up a Teacher.” She had seen the nasty cover of Time with a court gavel about to smash an apple (a good one by the way). She had seen the title she knew was a lie: It’s nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher. But I think what pushed her over the edge was the subheading: A group of Silicon Valley investors wants to change that.
The irony drips. The Wolves of Wall Street woke up one day and decided simultaneously that all the problems with American education could be solved by…firing teachers. Seriously? My dear friend could not even muster outrage. She was just tired. She saw prestigious Time as next up to bat in a long line of cheap swings at teachers. Time could have written about any number of ways to improve our schools–restoring school funding, actually ensuring equity, and ending the insane and costly No Child Left Behind testing regime, which has replaced real classroom instruction with tests, tests, and more tests. Instead, Time decided to write about tenure. They came to the astonishing conclusion that the one critical reform we must make is to make it easier to fire teachers.