Posts Tagged ‘Teachers’

Increased ‘productivity’ in education

October 5, 2015

TeacherJobGap5xnfRJSource: Economic Policy Institute.

Blogger Duncan Black thinks these figures indicate that Americans should stop cutting public school teachers’ wages and benefits, reducing their job security and making them scapegoats for all the ills of society.

But according to the neo-liberal philosophy that prevails in U.S. industry, the decline in the number of teachers is a good thing, not a bad thing.

A neo-liberal would tell you that fewer teachers with lower salaries teaching larger classes is by definition an increase in productivity (but that the best way to achieve this is through privatization).


If you think teachers have things easy …

February 9, 2015

School teaching is another example of how hard-working Americans with five-figure incomes are scapegoated and harassed by administrators and consultants with six-figure incomes.

If you think teachers have it easy, I suggest you read the following linked articles.  In fact, I recommend them even if you are already sympathetic and supportive of teachers.


Teachers Want You to Know: We Don’t Get Summers Off by Dayna Evans for Gawker.

Why Teachers Pay for Students’ Supplies Out of Their Own Pockets by Dayna Evans for Gawker.

Why Teachers Obsessively Schedule Every Part of the Work Day by Dayna Evans for Gawker.

The passing scene: January 4, 2015

January 4, 2015

Scavengers by Adam Johnson for Granta.

Adam Johnson walked down the stairs of his North Korean tourist hotel because he did not trust the elevator, and discovered that most floors of were unoccupied and scavenged for furnishings in order to keep up appearances on the few floors on which the tourists stayed.  This is one of the glimpses his article provides of the reality of life in North Korea.

Remembering the Russian Orthodox Priest Who Fought the Orthodox Church by Cathy Young for the Daily Beast.

Father Gleb Yakunin, a Russian Orthodox priest who died on Christmas, fought for democracy, Christian values and freedom for all religions against Communist totalitarianism and Putinist corruption.  He was defrocked twice for protesting and exposing the ties of the Russian Orthodox church with the Soviet government.

Religion in Latin America by the Pew Research Center.

Pentecostalism is on the rise in a historically Roman Catholic region.  The worldwide spread of Pentecostalism may be the most significant religious development of our time.

Tayloring Christianity by Matthew Rose for First Things.

A Secular Age? by Patrick J. Dineen for The American Conservative.

Secularism in the USA does not war on religion, the way anti-clericalism has done in France, Mexico and other countries.  American secularists simply want religion to be an individual matter rather than the organizing principle of society.  In a way, American secular liberals are the ultimate Protestants.


What does a teacher make? Quite a lot!

November 30, 2013

whatteachersmake.qmHat tip to Taylor Mali and ZEN PENCILS.

An educational reform that seems obvious

July 20, 2013

If I had the power, I’d give public school teachers who teach in high-crime and high-poverty areas the equivalent of combat pay, so that their wages would be equal to the wages of teachers in affluent, safe suburbs.

Scapegoats’ hunkering down is not enough

April 11, 2011

Newspapers reporters, such as I once was, have much in common with school teachers.  We chose our fields partly out of a desire to serve the public good; I can’t imagine becoming a reporter or a teacher with the idea of getting rich.  We like to think of ourselves as professionals, but we have the status of employees.  We are, however, regarded as powerful enough to be scapegoated for the ills of society.

I don’t think there are many occupations for which strangers feel entitled to insult you and what you do to your face, as I have experienced a number of times.

In this situation, it is natural to do what reporters and teachers do, and what I imagine people in other abused occupations, such as the police and the military, do, and that is to hunker down, do your job as best you can under the circumstances and discount criticism because it comes from outsiders who have no understanding of your reality.

Unfortunately you cannot win playing only defense.  If teachers, reporters and people in other abused occupations cannot articulate their professional goals and how to achieve those goals, others will get their goals for them.

I know how unrealistic this sounds.  As the saying goes, when you are up to your neck in alligators, it is hard to remember your original purpose was to drain the swamp.

Teachers complain that they don’t get support from parents.  Let their unions and professional organizations state specifically what they need from parents if they are to do their jobs.  They complain that they are overwhelmed by mandates from outsiders as to what and how to teach.  Then let their unions and professional organizations state specifically what leeway they need to do their jobs.  They complain of inadequate resources.  Then let them state specifically what resources they need.

I don’t believe in testing of students as a means of evaluating teachers.  At the same time there needs to be some way to deal with gross incompetence and misconduct.  I don’t have a good answer to this.  I look to the teachers unions and professional organizations to do this.


Good teacher, bad teacher

February 28, 2011

Current proposals for educational reform come down to this:

Reward the good teachers, and get rid of the bad ones.

When I look back on the teachers I had in grade school, in high school and in college, there are some for whom I still feel gratitude, others I hardly remember, and at least one I have bad feelings about.  I think anybody who in their lives encounters a teacher like Mrs. Vance, Mr. Hershman, Mr. Grove or one of my other best teachers is blessed.  It would have been nice if they could have been rewarded monetarily as well as in the memories of their students, but I don’t think more money would have made them do better teachers.

I can’t think of any metric by which their achievement could have been quantified by someone who didn’t know them.  The thing I remember about my best teachers is that they liked their students and they loved teaching.  They didn’t need external rewards and punishments to do a good job.

I think the experience of most professional people who work for large institutions is the need to balance compliance with management with doing their real jobs.  Colin Powell in his autobiography, My American Journey, referring to his career in the military, called this “giving the King his shilling.”  I did the same balancing as a newspaper reporter, so did my mother as a school teacher, and so does my sister-in-law as a school teacher.

A more powerful system of rewards and punishments will bring more compliance by teachers.  Will it bring better teaching?  I doubt it.