Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tweed's Idea Of A Good Teacher Is "Young & Dumb".

There is little doubt that student academic improvement is highly correlated with teacher quality. However, there is a real debate about what is a quality teacher? Most studies believe that a quality teacher has at least five years experience, has manageable class size, and is innovative when it comes to the classroom. Now compare this to what Tweed wants and see if Mayor Mike and Chancellor Joel really wants quality teachers in the New York City Public School System?

Class Size:
New York City has the highest class sizes in the State and both the Mayor and Chancellor have used CFE money that the State allocated for class size reductions for other uses. In fact class sizes have actually risen over the last year. The result was that in January of 2009 the UFT, NAACP, the Hispanic Federation, and Class Size Matters filed a lawsuit accusing the DOE of violating the State mandate to reduce class size. The large class sizes is not consistent with good teaching practices.

Innovative Teaching:
It wasn't too long ago that teachers had control of their classroom and based upon the varied learning styles of their students tailored the lessons to maximize student academic achievement. Along came Tweed with its "one-program-fits-all "Workshop Model" that treated the students as widgets and teachers as cogs as if it wasa business model, which it is not, and ssumed all student learning was the same. It didn't matter that this program was not applicable to English language learners or special eduction students. All the children's learning style is the same and any deviation by the teacher would result in disciplinary action against the teacher. Gone was he academic enhancements and storytelling that made learning fun. So many teachers have complained about the Tweed domination of the classroom the UFT started a media blitz called "let teachers teach". However, the UFT quietly put this program to rest and the classroom teacher has found the classroom increasingly hostile with a tripling of useless paperwork. Teaching techniques that have been proven to work in the past is now not only frowned upon but can lead to disciplinary charges against the teacher as they struggle to control the classroom without the innovative teaching that made learning fun for the child.

One of the most important factor in having a quality teacher is experience in the classroom. It takes a minimum of five years to acquire the classroom management skills to be an effective teacher. Furthermore, the experienced teacher can adapt to the ever changing classroom dynamics and tailor academic programs to best help the students academically. However, Mayor Mike and Chancellor Joel practices "education on the cheap" where it is more important to hire "newbie" teachers that cost less money and leave before they are vested than hiring an experienced teacher. In fact to encourage principals to hire cheap teachers the DOE instituted the "fair student funding" formula that actually will penalize principals who hire experienced teachers. It is little wonder that many of the small schools are populated by untenured staff hired by the Principal (usually a leadership Academy Principal with limited classroom experience) so he/she can fund their favorite projects. Finally, the DOE encourages recruitment of "newbie" teachers over retention of experienced teachers and for Tweed it is not about the children but the budget as they practice their "children last" policy.

In conclusion, Mayor Mike and Chancellor Joel are quite happy and encourages the principals to hire the "young and dumb" teachers in their schools. It is not about the children it is about what the money saved for Tweed to more easily fund theirno-bid high priced consultants for their pet projects that have little or no effect on the classroom.



Anonymous said...

Getting new teachers to stay, to become "seasoned" teachers, that would be a good thing.

And subversive.


Anonymous said...

This will correlate with the dumb as dumb diploma's they issue as graduation rates today were announced as being 59%. Pure crapola from the DOE.

Anonymous said...

There has been so much talk about "quality teachers" in the latest education debates, with all seeming to agree with studies that apparently show teacher quality is the most important factor in students' learning. I am relieved that someone, besides myself, is questioning what makes a quality teacher. Curricula has become so uniform and "teacher-proof" and almost every aspect of teacher's individuality and decision-making power has been taken away, that the lines between highly effective and not-as-effective teachers are completely blurred and left many of the really good ones discouraged, feeling as if their hands are tied, and often, not as good as they used to be. At a time when merit pay and "firing bad teachers" seems unavoidable, teachers need to be given more autonomy if we really want to accurately determine quality.