Saturday, October 25, 2014
Time Magazine Joins The Teacher Bashing News Media.
The once gold standard of news reporting, Time magazine, has now sacrificed their journalistic responsibility for some cheap headlines by putting on its cover, a picture of "rotten apples" with a caption saying its nearly impossible to fire bad teachers. While the article inside the magazine seems more balanced, the use of the picture demonizing teachers rather than a more neutral cover on the tenure wars is inflammatory.
Most educators know that the problem with education is not teacher tenure but the lack of education funding and deep poverty. Many students show up to school hungry, tired, sick, and insecure. To believe that a teacher can cure society's ills is not only naive but is insincere when you claim that if you eliminate teacher tenure education will improve. In fact, the opposite is the more likely result. In the book "The Teacher Wars" by education reporter Dana Goldstein, she reported that a teacher affects, at most, 7% of a child's academic achievement. That means that 93% or more of the factors that affect student academic achievement are beyond the teacher's control.
If teacher tenure is the problem then states that have no teacher tenure should have better educational outcomes and a lower racial/income academic achievement gap. However, the opposite is true. States like Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas have the lowest academic levels in the nation and the widest racial/income academic achievement gaps where teachers have no tenure protections. Furthermore, many studies have shown that teacher tenure is associated with better student outcomes since teachers feel more secure to try different approaches without fear of being fired. Moreover, teacher tenure reduces teacher turnover which can destabilize a school. Finally, if a teacher is truly awful, then the Principal can deny tenure or, if tenured, can document the reason to terminate the teacher in a "due process hearing".
A case in point is the New York City schools. Given the same racial and income cohort, schools that have experienced tenured teachers have lower staff turnover and better student achievement. By contrast, the schools that have higher inexperienced non-tenured teachers on saff suffer from high teacher turnover and lower academic achievement. Is it any wonder that the schools who have a deep poverty concentration have the highest teacher turnover, the most non-tenured teachers, and the lowest college readiness scores?
Already there are fewer college students going into education and fewer yet who actually want to teach in the classroom. How can you expect to get "quality teachers" when the media continually demonizes teachers and blames them for all the ills in society. This just scares high quality potential candidates from considering the teaching profession and ensures that it becomes the profession of last resort during the recession years and go begging when other, better paying and less stressful jobs are available. The teaching profession is a highly respected profession throughout the world, except in this nation where these deep-pocketed billionaires have convinced the media that the problem with the nation's education.is teacher quality and not the real reasons of inequility, inadequate funding, and poverty.