Making my first foray into teh Politiks Forum as I have thoroughly exhausted all of patience for teh phfailz.
I like to think that I sit on both sides of the debate here. I am a former teacher and definitely know plenty of the conditions and stresses on teachers these days akin to what copernicus is describing. It is absolutely deplorable some of the things teachers, [B]most[/B] of whom, really, truly entered the profession to work with, and help children. The decisions that are made by school administrators and district or county wide supervisors who haven't set foot in a classroom in well over fifteen years with six- and seven-digit salaries make your head spin. Quick example: two school years ago I had the pleasure to work at an Alternative School (read: where students go when they get kicked out of their regular public school). Our middle school program taught students in grades 7th and 8th grades. We had a 6th grader assigned to our classes and he was given an unusually quick start date so that the county could "service his IEP." Well part of having an IEP is to ensure that students with disabilities receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (better known as FAPE). Someone sitting in the central office thought it perfectly fit that a 6th grader sitting in 7th grade classes provided the student an appropriate education as per his IEP.
With that said, copernicus, I hate to admit it, but you seem like the kind of whiny, contract-loving, woe-is-me kind. It could be that you are fairly new to the profession as I might have aligned more closely with your beliefs when I first started, but I learned over time to try to pigeon-hole everything that is wrong with the system to NCLB and Bush (and his cronies??? amidoingitrite?) is inaccurate and off base. I think as I'm sure you do, that NCLB was a giant waste of time and in all actuality pretty unrealistic, but as Mr. Sticks has pointed out, George wasn't the only feller to sign that there document. And as an aside, I don't know that I heard anyone describe 'corporal punishment' as you did as being part of the law. I agree whole-heatedly about how so many people seem so willing to pander to the students and/or parents, but that is more locally political than anything written in any legislation.
I would also caution you as to how excited you become about how teacher evaluations will be compiled in the future. I think some of the union lovers are jumping in with two feet about how awful it is. I think that [B]if[/B] done properly, basing teacher evaluation on student performance is acceptable. Granted that is a big if but supposen a school you someday teach at awards merit pay. Assuming that you are motivated, dedicated professional, your students will likely succeed providing you a decent to good evaluation. Well then perhaps you just earned a little extra cake for your hard work.
With that said I would also encourage the masses reading through all of this to not so quickly jump on the anti-union bandwagon. Especially when teacher evaluations are involved. In the interest of full disclosure, I did belong to the teachers' unions in the four years I taught. Generally speaking, I did not like the way that the unions represented the teachers. It usually consisted of an old, jaded former or even current teacher with a highly-inflated opinion of themselves whining about how teachers are underpaid. One union I belonged to, encouraged its members to attend the county council meeting in one of the 200 rain ponchos that the union had purchased to symbolize the unions request that the county tap into its "Rainy Day Fund" to fund teacher raises. Can anyone think of a better pictorial of the definition of asinine? I think teachers' unions and many unions in general do a piss-poor job of truly representing their membership. In summation, the only reason I was part of the union was the legal protection it offered when some jack-wagon middle schooler wanted to claim I touched him or her. This actually came into play for a buddy of mine [whom I coached football (why I can't bear the phfailstrip) with] who was arrested on erroneous charges while trying to HELP one of our players who might have had some severe emotional disturbances.
I do think unions or some sort of representations of teachers' rights are important when discussing student-performance based evaluations. I've seen plenty of instances where EXCELLENT teachers are removed or placed on "plans of assistance" for completely baseless reasons. That all being without student-performance based evaluation. I'm not one of the ones standing in the street begging for raises, nor would I be. Maybe I'm naive but I think there's some merit in doing ones' job and being happy when rewarded. I would like raises just like the next guy but its important to be sensible and sensitive to the climate of the world around you.
Sorry to go off so much but I felt I did have a valuable, bipartisan (I believe is the word I use in this forum) opinion on the issue(s). In summation, I suppose to provide some support to Mr. copernicus is to the rest of you out there:
All elephants are gray. Not all things gray are elephants. Some teachers and their unions are horrid. Not all teachers or their unions are.