Monday, September 13, 2010

A Majority of Americans Favor Witch Burning

That's probably not true, but when people favor such things it's invariably due to mass ignorance.  Bearing that in mind, Time Magazine says a majority favor rating teachers with test scores.  Here's the question they asked:

Should teachers' evaluations be based in part on their students' progress on standardized tests?
Yes: 64%
No: 31%
No answer/don't know: 4% 

Admittedly, that's not the same as burning witches.   But how many of those questioned have seen why it isn't a valid measure?  How many have read this study?   I'll go out on a limb and say fewer than 1%.  That may explain this question as well:

Do you think that public schools in this country are in a 'crisis,' or not?
In a crisis: 67%
Not in a crisis: 29%
No answer/don't know: 3%

Anyone reading the tabloids knows there's a crisis in education.  It's in the news pretty much every day.  And we're treating it with all sorts of methods that haven't worked, don't work, and won't work.  But it's better than thinking about the massive economic crisis, the one All the President's Men have failed to put a dent in.  And then there's this:

Do you support or oppose tenure for teachers, the practice of guaranteeing teachers lifetime job security after they have worked for a certain amount of time?
Support tenure: 28%
Oppose tenure: 66%
No answer/don't know: 6% 

Ask the hundreds of teachers fired by Michelle Rhee how secure they feel.   Ask the teachers at the Rhode Island school, whose jobs were saved by agreeing to draconian changes--after Barack Obama applauded their mass firing.  Don't want to travel?  Ask the hundreds of New York teachers in the non-rubber room, wherever that might be.  Ask the ATRs how secure they feel.  Ask the teachers in schools facing closure how sanguine they are about getting new jobs after being ATRed.

Few Americans follow education news, and even fewer know that status quo is utter crap.   Billionaires dictate a large portion of what hits major media, and buy candidates like you or I might buy an ice cream cone.    Yes, Americans think teachers are the problem.

And yes, it's our job to teach.  But it isn't us failing to keep the public informed.  That job belongs to the people who produce the articles we read in Time and elsewhere.
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