There is no secret that the education reform movement, hijacked by the hedge fund managers, billionaires, and the corporate elite (the 1%), has successfully blamed teachers for poor student academic achievement. The education reformers ignore the effects of poverty, the family, lack of resources for school, and the large class sizes that are associated with poor student academic achievement. Instead the education reform groups have attacked teacher "due process rights" and if they had their way, the teaching profession would be an "at will" employee, subject to termination at the wish of the administrator and school district. In other words, the teaching profession would be a temporary position with a low salary and few benefits, for recent college graduates who want to get their first job similar to the Teach for America model which sees over 85% of them leaving their classroom after five years of service. This instability and high teacher turnover destabilizes the schools and only hurts student academic outcomes.
How successful has the education reformers been in their campaign to demonize the teaching profession? Just pick up your daily newspaper and there would be a story about bad teachers or why teacher tenure is bad for students. .These same media outlets fail to see the connection between poverty and the social economic problems associated with the students that studies have shown contribute over 80% of the student's development. Unfortunately, the connection between zip codes and student academic achievement is a reality and not an excuse that the education reform groups want to ignore.
An example of what lengths the education reformers and their political and media allies will go is the bungled Common Core roll-out by New York State. Under parent and school district pressure, the State decided not to use the Common Core based tests to determine student scores since the curriculum was not available for teachers to receive the proper training in. However, the education reformers demanded that the scores still count for the teachers, even when the few available field tests showed large errors in the scores and the "value added measures" were considered "junk science". The hypocrisy that exempted students from being penalized by these poorly planned tests but still hold teachers accountable for the same tests shows the power that the education reform groups hold over the State. It was only last week that the Governor relented to a two year freeze. The reason for the resistance to the two year freeze was obvious. The test scores would have allowed administrators to get around tenure by using the flawed test scores to show the teacher was "ineffective" and fire them after two years.
Recently, a California judge has ruled that the State's teacher tenure law is "unconstitutional" and allows poor preforming teachers to stay in the classroom and hurts minority students. According to the judge it's a civil rights issue. I believe the judge's flawed ruling will be overturned on appeal. However, the California decision will set in motion similar lawsuits throughout the nation. Already the .clueless Campbell Brown has taken her anti-teacher rhetoric in that direction and is spearheading a similar lawsuit in New York State.
The education reform movement claims they want "quality teachers" in every classroom. However,where they have attained authority over the schools like New Orleans, Newark, Detroit, and Houston, the teachers hired were recent college graduates that required these municipalities to seek a waiver under No Child Left Behind since they are not considered "highly qualified" according to the law. In fact, many of the recent college graduates were not even certified educators and were mostly white while instructing an almost 100% minority student population. Moreover, the education reform groups support the continued expansion of charter schools with teachers as an "at will" employee. Meaning that teachers can be hired and fired at will. The result is a high teacher turnover rate with few teachers lasting beyond three years at these schools. The charter schools will claim they have better results then the public schools but that's because they remove struggling and behaviorally challenged students from their school. Just take a look at the Eva Moskowitz Success Academy school as an example. Of the 72 students who started only 32 graduated from the school that means 56% of the students left the school and since the school does not back fill, the school is left with an incomparable cohort when it comes to the public schools. For the education reform organizations the future would be no teacher tenure, no pension or retiree health benefits, and deprofessionalizing the teaching profession by making it a stepping stone to a real professional occupation.
Already, across the nation scattered teacher shortages are becoming evident. This disturbing trend will accelerate as the nation's economic condition slowly improves. Many collges are complaining that they have seen a decrease in education majors. One college professor said that his class on classroom teaching techniques aare only half filled and he suspects a good quarter of his students have no intention of ever teaching in the classroom. This is the fallout for the constant media and political demonetization of teachers and their profession. With the elimination of teacher tenure you can expect a rise in ageism, cronyism, nepotism, and favoritism, the very reason teacher tenure laws were necessary in the first place.
Teaching was once considered a noble and highly respected occupation and that's still the case in much of the world. However, thanks to the education reform groups and their political and media allies, supported by deep pocketed benefactors, the teaching profession is anything but respected. Teachers and the unions are blamed for all the problems of the school system while the other issues that are beyond the control of the classroom teachers are ignored. Is it any wonder, that in five years we will see a deepening shortage of teachers as nobody in there right mind will even consider a profession that is constantly under attack and blamed for all society's ills.