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Thread: Another Education Discussion

  1. #1
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    Another Education Discussion

    DISCLAIMER: I am a former teacher.

    Please don't relate me to the other teacher fellow so often on here. While he has some of his points, I think he is far too much a union homer and would assume stick his head in the sand with rank and file than to do his own research and form his own opinion. I see him as a black/white person where as I seem to permanently live in grey.

    I saw this article on the FB page of a teacher friend and thought to read through it as it had some rave reviews.

    I have witnessed the hatred toward teachers (and other union groups) in this forum and at first it shocked me. As a volunteer first-responder, I have profound respect for professionals in those fields who also tend to be represented by unions. With that said, I can agree wholeheartedly that unions, more often than not, cause more harm than good. But on the other hand, I don't think they are the demise of American society. I am still far too afraid of officials (appointed and elected) and the power they wield to be able to affect these public employees is somewhat frightening. So there you have it-a little more grey.

    In any event, below is the article in question. I think it does a very fair job representing both sides of this somewhat insurmountable topic. I think Joe Voter's opinion, or lack of trust in Education is not without merit. There are atrocious teachers, worse administrators, and rampant misuse of funds. However, there are absolutely epidemic issues faced by students and teachers of this day and age which this article does a nice job to present.

    I don't doubt that this will promptly be brushed under the rug here but I was quite curious to the opinions of the gentlemen and ladies on this site. The rest of you too. I promise not to stick to the teacher/union line if someone wishes to respond. I've matured enough to realize that the world is bigger than me or any classroom.

    http://theeducatorsroom.com/2012/09/...rican-teacher/
    The Exhaustion of the American Teacher
    September 12, 2012 By John Kuhn Comments (460)

    With the 2012-2013 American school year still in its infancy, it’s worthwhile to note that the people doing the actual educating are down in the dumps. Many feel more beaten down this year than last. Some are walking into their classrooms unsure if this is still the job for them. Their hearts ache with a quiet anguish that’s peculiarly theirs. They’ve accumulated invisible scars from years of trying to educate the increasingly hobbled American child effectively enough that his international test scores will rival those of children flourishing in wealthy, socially-advanced Scandinavian nations and even wealthier Asian city-states where tiger moms value education like American parents value fast food and reality TV.

    The American child has changed, and not necessarily for the better. Many shrill voices argue that teachers must change, too, by simply working harder. The favored lever for achieving this prescribed augmentation of the American schoolteacher’s work ethic is fear, driven by a progressively more precarious employment situation.

    But teachers by and large aren’t afraid; they’re just tired.

    Meanwhile, no one is demanding American non-teachers change anything. Michelle Rhee wastes none of her vast supply of indignation on American public policies that leave a quarter of our children in poverty while, not coincidentally, the profits of Rhee’s corporate backers reach new heights. And no one but Paul Tough dares to hint at the obvious-but-politically-incorrect reality that a swelling army of kid-whipped or addiction-addled American parents have totally abdicated the job of parenting and have raised the white flag when it comes to disciplining their children or teaching them virtues like honesty, hard work, and self-respect. Americans have explicitly handed off character education to schoolteachers. Such a practice says a great deal about our nation’s expectations of its parents.



    The problem with the American student of 2012 isn’t as cartoonishly simple as evil unions protecting bad teachers. Nor is it as abstract and intractable as poverty. The problem is as complex, concrete, and confront-able as the squalor and neglect and abuse and addiction that envelope too many American children from the time they step outside the schoolhouse door at 3:30pm until the moment they return for their free breakfast the next morning. Meanwhile, the campaign to understate the impact of devastating home and neighborhood factors on the education of our children has done little more than curtail any urgency to address those factors. “No excuses” hampers the development of a holistic wraparound approach that would foster education by addressing real needs rather than ideological wants, because it holds that such needs are mere pretexts and not actual challenges worthy of confronting.

    Like many educators, I’ve smelled on my students the secondhand drugs that fill too many of their homes with bitterness and want. There is sometimes a literal pungency to low academic performance that remedial classes won’t scrub from our kids. But it isn’t kosher to declare that any parent is failing. And it isn’t okay to note that some families are disasters. So out of courtesy, the liberal says the problem is poverty and the conservative says it’s unions.

    Truth is, the problem with the American student is the American adult. Deadbeat dads, pushover moms, vulgar celebrities, self-interested politicians, depraved ministers, tax-sheltering CEOs, steroid-injecting athletes, benefit-collecting retirees who vote down school taxes, and yes, incompetent teachers—all take their turns conspiring to neglect the needs of the young in favor of the wants of the old. The line of malefactors stretches out before our children; they take turns dealing them drugs, unhealthy foods, skewed values messages, consumerist pap, emotional and physical and sexual traumas, racist messages of aspersion for their cultures, and countless other strains of vicious disregard. Nevertheless, many pundits and politicians are happy to train their rhetorical fire uniquely on the teachers, and the damnable hive-feast on the souls of our young continues unabated. We’re told not to worry because good teachers will simply overcome this American psychic cannibalism and drag our hurting children across the finish line ahead of the Finnish lions.

    Yeah, right.

    Today, teachers across the land dutifully cast their seeds on ever-rockier ground. We were all told that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, and we all became adamant about education; but no one told us not to waste kids’ hearts or weaken their spines or soften their guts, and we long ago abandoned our traditional cultural expectations for children’s formation. I’m not calling for picket fences and Leave it to Beaver; I’m calling for childhoods that aren’t dripping with pain and disenchantment and a huge chasm where there should have been character-building experiences from the age of zero to five. That aren’t marked by an empty space where there should have been a disciplinarian. And a gap where there should have been a rocking chair and a soft lap waiting when the child was hurting. I am referring to missing ingredients that I now recognize as the absolute essentials, things I took for granted when I was too young to realize I had won the parent lottery.

    Adults—not merely teachers—have caused these little ones to stumble, but journalists and nonprofits and interloping government experts offer not a hand to the young but rather a cat-of-nine-tails across the backs of their teachers. Injustice for teachers is confused with justice for kids.

    “Waiting for ‘Superman’” told teachers they were terrible, callous, and incompetent, that only magnanimous charter school operatives could save victimized children from their rapacious clutches.

    NCLB told teachers they would only be considered successful if 100% of their students passed 100% of their tests.

    Condoleezza Rice told teachers they were so ineffective that they were a national security threat.

    Chris Christie told teachers that when two or more of them gather, they are thugs. Suddenly, the apple-themed knit sweater is a symbol of American menace rivaling the leather biker jacket.

    “Won’t Back Down” actors Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhall, Ving Rhames, and Holly Hunter used their art to communicate that teachers only want union protections so they can lock poor children in closets, and that the only way to protect children from the plague of heartless unionized miscreants mal-educating them across this land is by letting their parents hand over local schools to wholly benevolent charter school operators led by the friendly Mother Teresas behind Parent Revolution.

    Teachers learned from Bobby Jindal that public schools are so lousy that Louisiana is better off paying for its children to attend private schools that no state official has ever visited, that teach any curriculum whatsoever, and that are exempt from any accountability mechanisms at all because, you know, the free market will ensure their quality. (Though choice will allow children to vote with their feet by leaving public schools too, you can bet that arcane accountability measures will remain firmly in place for them.)

    StudentsFirst told America to distrust its teachers.

    Eric Hanushek told America that larger class sizes will improve education and, gee-whiz, they’re cheaper too, so why wouldn’t we grow them? Bill Gates seconded the motion.

    Barack Obama told teachers he hated teaching to the test, and then he built Race to the Top of Test Mountain.

    The educators I’ve known aren’t the goats they’re held up to be. There are certainly goats, and they’ve made a terrible mess of things. There are indeed Americans doing grievous harm to children; they just don’t happen to always be their teachers.

    We feel uncomfortable being honest about who they are and what they do (and neglect to do) to devastate these babies. So we usually don’t speak out about it. We leave out the damning details because they are unkind.

    When it comes to America’s shamefully overflowing crop of ravaged children, trembling pundits, bumbling policy-crafters, and bombastic governors lead us in a chorus in which we either blame their teachers, or we blame something amorphous like poverty, or we blame no one. It is impolite to point at the blood dripping from the hands of well-meaning devastators when they happen to go by names like Mom and Dad.

    And so we fix nothing.

    The American schoolteacher is exhausted. I am exhausted.

    Tom Petty once sang, “Let me up, I’ve had enough.”

    That. Please.
    Going to bed. Not trolling. Will check in again tomorrow. Have a good 'un.

  2. #2
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    I don't dislike teachers.

    I don't even dislike unions.

    I dislike government officials that rely on union members as a voting block, negotiating with unions.

    I don't think many people would disagree that the obstacles faced by American children are largely due to the environment they grow up in, which is largely constituted by their parents. I do think it's a bit unfair to represent Scandinavia or Finland as some sort of educational utopia where teachers and the children the teach know no hardship. I also tire of the assertion that teachers are somehow abnormally moral and hardworking merely because they choose teaching as a profession. I think most teachers care about their students and do their job to the best of their ability. However i think that can be said of lawyers, accountants, doctors, and a whole host of other professions. Good teachers should be praised and rewarded. Bad teachers should be relieved of their jobs... just like lawyers, accountants and doctors.

    So, in closing, i don't consider myself anti-teacher at all. However the views i expressed are met with a lot of venom from most of those i know involved in the teaching profession.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axil View Post
    I don't dislike teachers.

    I don't even dislike unions.

    I dislike government officials that rely on union members as a voting block, negotiating with unions.

    I don't think many people would disagree that the obstacles faced by American children are largely due to the environment they grow up in, which is largely constituted by their parents. I do think it's a bit unfair to represent Scandinavia or Finland as some sort of educational utopia where teachers and the children the teach know no hardship. I also tire of the assertion that teachers are somehow abnormally moral and hardworking merely because they choose teaching as a profession. I think most teachers care about their students and do their job to the best of their ability. However i think that can be said of lawyers, accountants, doctors, and a whole host of other professions. Good teachers should be praised and rewarded. Bad teachers should be relieved of their jobs... just like lawyers, accountants and doctors.

    So, in closing, i don't consider myself anti-teacher at all. However the views i expressed are met with a lot of venom from most of those i know involved in the teaching profession.

    Good article and good answer.

    I have posted similar comments regarding parental uninvolvement in many of our education threads here. This article goes a long way to show that the problem is not one thing, it is all of the factors starting with parenting down to unions that make the issues about money and not kids while claiming it is about the kids. I don't know of anyone that "blames the teachers" for anything other than their blindly following the unions. It hurts the teacher's cause when they are striking "for the students", it is very disingenuous.

    The reason I think charter and private schools typically see better results is specifically because the parents that take the time and/or money to put their kids in one of those schools have stated by doing so that they are devoted parents. As the article states one of the biggest issues is parental involvement and discipline so this is less of an issue in private schools.

    I will also beat my other drum that I typically do which is that many of the complaints of the blight of public schools center on the urban schools. I live in NJ in a suburb of low to middle class people. There are many multifamily dwellings, many parents that speak broken English at best but the school is good, amazing by urban standards.

    I went to our High School orientation for my daughter last week and the school is AMAZING! Big, clean well organized. Tons of sports programs, extra curricular activities. To those that lament the demise of music and art is schools, there are 4 music teachers and several art teachers. They teach Spanish, French and German as secondary languages. There is still a wood shop, metal shop, auto shop, CAD/architectural program, big technology program with a 3d printer to bridge the programs of CAD and tech, they even have a proffesional certification center where kids can get tech certifications to help flesh out their budding resumes and many more classes. Needless to say I was sitting there wishing I had gone to that high school or that I could take many of the classes they offer.

    The media, as always, is a major culprit in making Americans think there is an epidemic in public schools. Urban areas have issues, no doubt. Maybe the problem there is the lack of accountability that has been taught by their elected liberals for so many years that has led us to a lack of parental involvement and a nanny state where everyone feels it is the states job to care for us and raise our children. You will see that all this extra government from education programs to health care will be the demise of what was a great country until we come to our senses and realize we made the country, we are the country and a legislated lack of personal responsibility is a horrible thing.

    The attitudes of the inner-city and bankrupt California are now being drawn across America by our current "leadership" and it needs to be stopped before the inner-city results are foisted on the rest of us.

    To those people who voted for that world I say, Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.

    </endrant>

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axil View Post
    I don't dislike teachers.

    I don't even dislike unions.

    I dislike government officials that rely on union members as a voting block, negotiating with unions.

    I don't think many people would disagree that the obstacles faced by American children are largely due to the environment they grow up in, which is largely constituted by their parents. I do think it's a bit unfair to represent Scandinavia or Finland as some sort of educational utopia where teachers and the children the teach know no hardship. I also tire of the assertion that teachers are somehow abnormally moral and hardworking merely because they choose teaching as a profession. I think most teachers care about their students and do their job to the best of their ability. However i think that can be said of lawyers, accountants, doctors, and a whole host of other professions. Good teachers should be praised and rewarded. Bad teachers should be relieved of their jobs... just like lawyers, accountants and doctors.

    So, in closing, i don't consider myself anti-teacher at all. However the views i expressed are met with a lot of venom from most of those i know involved in the teaching profession.
    Well said.

    I'll add only this:

    In my own experience, Unions today serve only to protect the veteran worker, who are often the least productive, least customer focussed, and least professional, at the expense of younger/less tenured workers who regularly outproduce them accross the board. And when any cut occurs, it's those younger workers who are sacrificed, never the Veterans.

    That experience has tainted my personal view of Unions, perhaps permanently.

    I believe that Unions played a vital role, an unbeleiveably vital role, in getting protections for American workers when no such protections existed.

    I believe that purpose has, for the most part and in the vast majority, become no longer required. Federal law now does more than enough to protect workers IMO, and the legislative process is the ebst route for any futher balancing of the management/labor equation in terms of protections.

    Unions today are far more about politics than they are about their workers. They are about profiteering, more than fairness. And their efforts have driven up both wages and expectations to an unsustainable, unrealistic, level. It is my belief that most tenured Union workers are simply not worth close to what they make in pay.

    And that bill will eventually come due, one way or the other.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for chiming in guys.

    I think everyone made great points and I think you all kind of represented the same ideas I've had over the years. I especially agree with Fishy's point about last in, first out.

    I agree that unions are entirely too political and the political support elected officials or candidates solicit from them is even worse. As I started drifting off to sleep last night after posting this article, I was thinking about if I was a teachers' union president.

    I think I would entirely circumvent central offices or even the Superintendant if need be and make people aware of the horrific waste of public funds in the school system. Unnecessary capital projects, inflated clerical salaries, overpaid and underqualified consultants, costly and inadequate "out-of-the-box" math or reading intervention programs and so on. I also wouldn't be hiding behind the union wall when it came to student performance-based teacher evaluations. IF done properly, that would do wonders to eliminate the waste and support the strong of the teacher population. Once waste reduced and strong teachers and pedagogy supported, then we can talk about teacher compensation. (Which I do believe generally, is OK, but could certainly be better in some places. Especially in instances where teachers are going miles above and beyond in their preparation and honing of their craft.)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasper17 View Post
    DISCLAIMER: I am a former teacher.

    Please don't relate me to the other teacher fellow so often on here. While he has some of his points, I think he is far too much a union homer and would assume stick his head in the sand with rank and file than to do his own research and form his own opinion. I see him as a black/white person where as I seem to permanently live in grey.
    .
    Absolutely loved this article. Thanks for posting it.

  7. #7
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    - It's not the teachers.

    - It's the way, way, way too many way, way, way overpaid administrators.

    - In urban areas, high school students starting in the 9th grade should be offered/encouraged to attend summer school and graduate a year early as a Junior. I went to school in the suburbs and knew a few people that graduated as Juniors. I wish I had done the same.


  8. #8
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    It is not the teachers. It is the head of the unions who year after year demand more money. It is the overblown administration and the lack of accountability where the money is being spent. It is the tax payers money and they desearve an explanation so does the ordinary teacher.

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