Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eric Nadelstern, Demotivational Speaker

I've felt demotivated a lot in my teaching career. But Eric Nadelstern's remarks at a Teachers Network forum might just take the demotivational cake.

For those of you are unfamiliar with Mr. Nadelstern's uplifting rhetoric, he attempted to make the case to his audience that they would not want their own children to be taught by two-thirds of the city's teachers. Yes, two-thirds of the city's teachers suck, according to Mr. Nadelstern. Let's set aside, for a moment, the fact that Mr. Nadelstern has held various posts in the DOE over the past few years in which he has been responsible for teaching and learning, which would suggest that if the teaching corps is unequipped to teach all but the most bootless and unhorsed, perhaps it is somehow a tiny bit his own fault. But since I'm a generous commentator, I'll set that aside.

Why on Earth would someone in Nadelstern's position make such a statement? I can't fathom the president of a hospital saying that two-thirds of their doctors can't figure out how to open a Band-aid, or the president of a car company saying that two-thirds of their workers forget to install brakes in new cars. First of all, it sounds too ludicrous to even be true; second, it sounds like a great way to totally undermine your work force's self-confidence and the public's trust in them for no good reason at all with absolutely no evidence.

Stuff like this makes younger teachers like myself who might be open to making some contract changes want to dig in their heels and refuse to budge an inch. Or maybe it just makes us want to quit. In fact, Nadelstern's remarks made me want to make a statement that is unprintable in a family blog but that you can surely imagine, pack my things, and head for the suburbs. And I tell you truly, I have never considered teaching anywhere else until now.

I don't know why it bothers me so much that he said this stuff. I should just shrug it off as posturing. But I know way too many good teachers. If two-thirds of the city's teachers were somewhere on the mediocre-to-awful spectrum, you'd think we'd notice. I'm not seeing it, though.
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