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Re: [nyceducationnews] Re: Kozol's article: "The Big Enchilada" re.privatization and NCLB

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  • norscot@aol.com
    Gary Funny you should mention McDonald s. There was a good discussion on NYC Educator s blog awhile ago about McTeachers - creating a temporary, non-career
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 3, 2007
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      Funny you should mention McDonald's. There was a good discussion on NYC Educator's blog awhile ago about McTeachers - creating a temporary, non-career oriented teacher corps. Here it is with comments.


      There's a lot of buzz about Michelle Rhee, who's become head of the D.C. school system at the ripe old age of 37. Ms. Rhee is a product of Teach for America.

          Teach for America places recruits after six or seven weeks of summer courses and practice teaching. Some crash and burn when they face real classes. But their survival rate is improving, and those who succeed often resolve to spend their lives fixing all that is wrong with urban education.

          Some critics note that, on average, teachers in the program do not raise achievement levels much higher than do other young teachers. They also say that despite some successes, the innovators, who seek new ways of training teachers and running schools, have not found a way to improve learning for the vast majority of low-income urban students.

      Despite this, they seem to be well-regarded among prominent voices for educational reform. The founders of KIPP hail from TFA, and Ms. Rhee's colleagues can be found administrating both charters and public schools.

          The innovators tend to support smaller schools, closer contact with students' parents, and longer school days and years. They also focus on character education and how much teachers raise student achievement. They want well-trained principals to have the power to hire or fire teachers with less interference.

          Some even suggest that school systems should focus on recruiting waves of energetic young teachers, who would spend five or six years in the classroom before moving on, rather than career teachers, who might tire as they grow older.

      There's a lot to be said for smaller schools, in my view. However, I do not agree that partitioning one big overcrowded school into five smaller ones equals five small schools. To me, that's another big school with a lot of walls and too many administrators.

      And while there are those who feel comfortable depending on the kindness of strangers, I'm not among them. After reading about Nicole Byrne Lau and other charter teachers, I value tenure a lot, as should anyone who sees teaching as a career. That's particularly important when you consider the blatant "chew 'em up and spit 'em out" philosophy espoused by those who suggest the lifespan of a teacher ought to be five or six years.

      There are those who equate age with wisdom, and while it's not always true, I still want thoughtful, experienced teachers for kids who need them most. I'm afraid I fail to see the wisdom of working teachers to death, or at best resignation. I don't think I'd want to be on call with a cellphone for hours after I left my job, as KIPP teachers are. Like most people, I'm available at work, and like any responsible person I return calls quickly.

      Now I'm told that KIPP does have one 100K teacher, who they trot out for conferences and such. However, Nassau County, where I live, has thousands of them. They all have tenure, they aren't on call, they don't work longer days and years, and they aren't expected to flame out after five or six years. And some of them have been very helpful to my little girl.

      In fact, I've seen many great teachers as old or older than Ms. Rhee. The notion of entrusting the education of our children with anyone who can put up with the job for a few years before moving onto greener pastures is offensive, counter-productive, and more worthy of a summer camp than a serious educational institution.

      Unless, of course, you've got your eye planted firmly on the bottom line. If your ultimate goal is reduction of Steve Forbes' tax bill, it all makes perfect sense.

      The fast food industry works the same way Jay Matthews and these other "reformers" would like school systems to work - hire kids to work for a few years, pay them next to nothing, work them to death, and move 'em out for a new batch of untrained neophytes willing to do and say anything the bosses want.

      What a great lesson to teach kids.
      reality-based educator | Homepage | 06.19.07 - 8:05 am | #

      Gravatar Does Joel Klein think that his postal worker father should have not gotten raises for his years of experience even though he may have lost a "step" or two as he aged.
      This is market capitalism in its cruelest form and it doesn't have to be this way. If the marginal income tax rate on the super rich was raised a small fraction teachers and other civil service workers could be paid a living wage.
      sol | 06.19.07 - 9:39 am | #

      Gravatar And the curriculum of America's Choice will burn that candle at both ends. It wiil alow admins to replace teachers at regular intervals, confident that anyone can do turn and talk and mini lessons and TANs for five years. And the graduates it produces will be able to do their assigned tasks at Mickey Ds or some such place, and very little else.
      xkaydet65 | 06.19.07 - 9:40 am | #

      Gravatar Sh*t happens! The end of organized labor and the re-invigoration of schools AKA: corporate style management. It's apparent that we lack leadership that is honest, passionate and supportive of our kids and educators who know what to do.They know a new TFA or Fellow will quit in 2-3 years, so why pay experienced teachers top $? It's hard to keep up with the Klein BS, specially when the reality hits that it's broken yet again and he'll be Mayor!
      freddy | 06.19.07 - 11:05 am | #

      Gravatar I know a lot of current TFAs personally, and the system is all pretty Orwellian. One often-repeated goal of this program, which pretty much boasts that it does not train or recruit career teachers, is that its disposable teachers will go out into the real world, take jobs of influence, and help to improve the public schools in some nebulous way via their inside knowledge of the challenges in public education.

      But the TFAs get a very, very distorted picture of public education. They only see public education at its most miserable, since by definition those are the only schools that will take teachers with 6-weeks training regardless of the pedigree of their college degree.

      Not surprisingly, they tend to think tenure and even any job protection (including unions) are bad. After all, tey are in schools where a high proportion (not a majority, of course, but a good number) of the experienced teachers are burn-outs or worse who have been shunted out of better-managed schools. Their own backgrounds tend them toward socioeconomic conservatism, though their piercings and tatoos and organic food products may make them think they're left-y and certainly they vote Democratic. Finally, they're force-fed classroom management training that includes a subtle powerful strain of by-the-bootstraps individualism. In this view, looking at broader political/power/social issues is just a way for lazy teachers to disown their own failure.

      In short, it's the training ground for a new generation of Clinton Democrats.
      TeacherJ | 06.19.07 - 6:02 pm | #

      Gravatar Most of the teaching fellows I have met are A$% kissers and corporate-oriented. I am sorry if I offend anybody with this comment, but, that's what I have seen since I started teaching 5 years ago.
      Ms S. | 06.19.07 - 7:50 pm | #

      Gravatar As a Teaching Fellow myself (to be distinguished from Teach for America), I can tell you that the Fellows in my cohort were quite the progressive educators, worshipping the holy trinity of race, class, and gender. This is not to say they were pro- or anti-union; that was hard to gauge. However, due to what I believe is lack of life experience (most were rather young), most lapped up the progressive ed philosophy and practices spoonfed to them in ed school.
      NYC Math Teacher | 06.19.07 - 10:18 pm | #

      Gravatar Wow, not much love for the Fellows here.

      It's okay. I'm a Fellow (obviously). But I am not so short-sighted that I don't see (now) how a Fellows program or a TfA can undermine career teachers. I don't think that it *has* to, but it can.

      Before you blame Fellows too hard for being "corporate ass kissers," consider my story. I was teaching in a new small school with a "theme," the theme of which I will keep to myself for the moment. Anyway, myself and a few other teachers noticed some bad business going on in the school--"credit recovery," passing kids just for showing up and handing in some work on the last day of the marking period, teachers being threatened (physically!) and nothing being done about it. Lo and behold, I found myself facing "excess" at the end of the year, despite the fact that the school is *hiring* for my license area.

      No U's, no attendance issues, no LIFs, but they screwed me anyway.

      If you career teachers think you have no rights, try being a TF who tries to not go along with the edubureaucracy. It gets you back out on the job market despite a fine record with your children.
      yo miss! in bushwick | 06.20.07 - 8:29 am | #

      Gravatar Personally, I don't blame individual teachers, or individual Fellows, for anything. I'm perfectly willing to take them one at a time, just like anyone. My criticism is directed more at the underlying philosophy as explained by Matthews, which is plainly odious.

      I was grabbed up by NYC at a time when standards were very low, and but for the time I chose to take them up on it, I may have been a Fellow as well.

      I'm very sorry to hear your news. Your news coincides, however, with the whistle blower law, which I'm sure the union is anxious to test. If I were you, I'd go right to the union with this complaint.

      And I don't think any of us delude ourselves that we have fewer rights than probationers. One thing that may work in your favor, however, is this "open market" system, which actually favors new teachers, particularly with the chancellor's latest cost-conscious reorganization.

      When I was excessed, three times, the union was no help at all. I put on a suit and walked into every department of every school that remotely interested me. You only need one job offer.

      Hope this helps, and I'm sorry I haven't got a magic bullet or anything.
      NYC Educator | Homepage | 06.20.07 - 8:48 am | #

      Gravatar Thanks for the kind words. I actually found a new job already, and in a much better school. I figure it's my soon-to-be-former school's loss.

      I didn't figure the union would be much help--I went Open Market and milked every connection I had.
      yo miss! in bushwick | 06.20.07 - 9:57 am | #

      In a message dated 8/3/07 8:21:44 AM, gbabad@... writes:

      I always worry that the DOE will take my parodies and turn them into
      policy. But when Kozol wrote in this article about turning schools
      into subsidiaries of McDonald's, it sounded familiar. Of course, it
      was an old GBN News article it reminded me of:
      Then it's just a small step from a "partnership" to a complete
      takeover of schools by McDonald's. Problem is, when McDonald's takes
      over the schools, what about the kids who work there. Do they become
      their own teachers?

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