"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Help Wanted

I retired after teaching for 35 years. If I were starting out again would I do the same thing over? Would I go back to school after spending a few years in the world of retail music to become a teacher? What if this, by P.L. Thomas at Schools Matter, was the job description...

U.S. Department of Miseducation

Wanted: 21st century teachers for public education in the U.S.

Experience: N/A

Education: undergraduate degree (no education degrees considered)

Certification: N/A

Job Description: Teachers will be required to implement Common Core Curriculum in order to prepare students for the state and national tests administered each academic year. Teachers will be assigned 40 students per class. Teacher benefits will not include due process or academic freedom, and each year the bottom 25% of teachers will be dismissed.

Compensation: Teachers will receive a minimum base salary based on working 3/4 of a year and determined by each state and then awarded merit pay based on the outcome of student test scores. Those test scores will rank all teachers' effectiveness and determine the bottom quartile to be dismissed each year.

Who Should Apply: The best and brightest who seek to work in a competitive environment and want a rewarding profession.
I don't know if I would have left the music business to become a teacher, or, having spent all the time in school working on a teaching degree and license, Master's degree, computer and reading specializations and Reading Recovery certification, I would have stayed.

A career in education was good for me. I learned a lot about myself and the struggles I had as a student. I hope I did some good over the length of my career. I hope that my understanding of what it meant to be a struggling learner gave some encouragement to those who were struggling. I hope that I helped students find their way to success. Truthfully, though, I'm not sure I would do it again.

How will we get the best and the brightest when we, as a nation, tell our children that being a teacher is not worthy of decent working conditions? Which best and brightest scientist will give up a job in the private sector for the frustrations and the disrespect that accompany teaching chemistry or physics to teenagers? Which best and brightest journalist will give up the success and stability of a steady job at a magazine or newspaper for the day to day struggle of trying to teach 8 year olds to read and write...knowing that their job depends on the ability of the children to parrot back the right answers on a multiple choice test? Who is going to choose special education when their job depends on student test scores? Who is going to choose to teach in high poverty areas where their job depends on how children who are hungry, or tired, or living on the street do on a test?

Where are the best and brightest going to come from and why would they choose teaching in America's public schools?

Maybe there will be young people who, despite the low pay, weakened employee position, and public disrespect, still want to capture the joy of learning and pass it on. Maybe some of the best and the brightest will give up solid salaries and support for test prep and long, unacknowledged hours of planning and grading. Maybe someone will be able to work around the test-insanity and push towards privatization that's captured the country and feel success helping one student at a time learn to read, write or cipher.

Wouldn't it be better to attract young, capable teaching candidates with good working conditions, and stability so half of them won't quit in the first five years? Wouldn't it be better to make a career in education stable enough so people will stay, gain experience and be around to mentor new teachers? If we want the best and brightest teachers we need to make the career more appealing...not less.

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