Wednesday, April 07, 2010

It's "Children First" Time Again

There's quite a bit of talk in the tabloids about those evil teachers who don't want to get fired.  What will happen if there are budget cuts?  Who will get the ax?  Well, according to the contract, it's last in, first out.  That's the way it's been in union jobs for some time now.

If you listen to the chancellor, it's an evil union plot designed to rain on his "reforms."  Never mind that he actually negotiated and signed the contract.  Never mind that he's already considerably weakened seniority and pretty much single-handedly created the ATR pool he regularly vilifies.  And never mind that he has the power to put these people to work in a New York minute.

The chancellor now demands the right to fire ATR teachers, as well as those in the rubber room.  He says this is necessary to offset budget cuts.   Anyone who's followed this administration knows this is just an opportunistic power grab, and that he's been demanding precisely these same things for years.  But that doesn't matter--he thinks we're largely morons who haven't noticed.

Not only that, but Klein says he needs to fire teachers any goshdarn way he feels like.  New teachers are brilliant and necessary, and the fact that their salaries are half those of veteran teachers means nothing whatsoever.  Nor does the fact that veteran teachers already put in their time working those bottom salaries.   Experience means nothing, and age does not actually equate to wisdom or any desirable qualities whatsoever.

In Gotham Schools, Diana Senechal says otherwise.

Besides teaching the actual subject (which is much richer than the stuff on the tests), a teacher offers insight, knowledge, experience, and wisdom, whether directly or indirectly. Over time, a teacher comes to see the education field and his or her subject in perspective. Newer teachers may be excited about new discoveries, but teachers with more experience can distinguish valuable ideas from passing fads. There are exceptions, of course, on both ends. But experience can bring humility, good judgment, and an ability to see and hear the larger story.

One would hope so.  Otherwise, really, what would be the point of going to school?   If experience has no value, we might as well toss our kids out onto the streets as soon as they can walk and tell them to call when they find work.  That's pretty much what the "reformers" have in mind--a revolving door workforce that teaches for a few years and then moves onto whatever other opportunities this crap economy has to offer.

Actually, if Klein and Bloomberg honestly gave a golly goshdarn about education, they'd find a way to avoid education cuts, even if it meant raising the taxes of billionaires.  But there are some lines they just won't cross.  It's "Children First" in NYC, and as usual, they're the first to get cut.
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